For the past week, we have all been held captive by endless trade rumors surrounding the Boston Celtics. Danny Ainge has been calling everyone, with Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, Jimmy Butler, Jahlil Okafor, DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Love all being linked in some capacity. However, for us Celtics fans, all this trade talk is just infuriating, as although there is a lot of smoke, Ainge doesn't have a fire going yet.
At this point, it seems it's going to take a little while longer for the Celtics to make a move. No deal at the moment is imminent, all of it is just speculation at the time of me writing. Danny is being his usual, patient self, looking after the best interests of the team, rather than instant gratification. That's all fine, I don't mind waiting, as long as the Celtics turn their countless assets into tangible star talent.
Just who should be the Celtics' main target has ignited arguments throughout Celtic nation. A lot of us like the idea of the ultimate swing for the fences, by pouring our assets into the Russell Westbrook basket. Others love the idea of a lower level star like a DeMarcus Cousins or Jimmy Butler.
I'm on a different island. As you can probably guess by the title, I'm crazy about the idea of Blake Griffin coming to Beantown. I think that with the personnel the Celtics already have in place, his skill-set would fit in perfectly. I believe that the Celtics need to go all-in on the idea of acquiring Blake Griffin. If he is even remotely available, the Celtics should do whatever it takes to acquire the 5-time all-star.
Blake Griffin's best abilities as a basketball player, involve his ridiculous athleticism and unparalleled finishing ability. Both these traits should point to him being a great pick and roll big man, a point guard's dream. In his early days in L.A., when 'Lob City' was still alive and well, this was all he did. He was the centerpiece of the Clipper offense, they would adjust to his abilities in the pick and roll game, where he would be near unstoppable if the floor was spaced decently enough.
However, in recent years, Griffin's pick and roll efficiency has plummeted. Last season, he was among the least efficient in the league, ranking in the 24th percentile (that's bad) and scoring at just 0.88 points per possession on each pick and roll. Some have attributed his decreasing ability in the pick and roll to his declining athleticism, but to me, it's clear that the problem is DeAndre Jordan.
DeAndre's a great player, but he and Blake simply cannot play together in the current NBA. On every Blake pick and roll, DeAndre clogs the lane with his lack of a jump shot. Teams are way too smart these days to get caught out on Griffin pick and rolls, because they know that Jordan offers no spacing whatsoever, so they clog the lane. They make sure Griffin doesn't get any room to Mozgov anyone. This is why his efficiency has plummeted from his early days.
With the emergence of Jordan as a dominant big man, Blake has had to adjust his game to suit his partner in crime. Instead of being the go-to pick and roll man, Jordan is, not only because he may be better at it, but because as mentioned, DeAndre's lack of a jump shot make the Griffin pick and roll less efficient than it should. Griffin has had to learn how to shoot and spot-up around Jordan's vicious rim rolls to provide enough spacing. He has had to build on his herky-jerky post game to add other things outside of rolling to the rim.
In Boston, Al Horford would be the perfect big man for him. As a frontcourt partner, he would provide ample spacing to allow Griffin to rediscover the pick and roll mastery of his formative years. The defense wouldn't be able to clog the paint for Griffin's rolling to the rim, as with Horford and the rest of Brad Stevens' army spacing the floor, defenses would have no choice but to defend Griffin's pick and rolls straight up, with minimal help defense. If they over-commit on Blake's vicious attacks, he could use his brilliant playmaking abilities to hit open men, just like Draymond Green does with the Warriors.
Not to mention, Horford, just like Jordan does in L.A. currently, would be able to cover up Griffin's defensive weaknesses. Horford is a very good defensive player that can protect the rim, defend any pick and roll and make Blake's life easier. They both have nimble feet and would be able to defend in space better than any other traditional big man combo.
Blake Griffin, as currently constituted on the Clippers, is being held back in one specific element of his game. That element, is his amazing playmaking, ball-handling and guard-like skills that don't come naturally to a guy his size. Blake Griffin has all the ability in the world to be a point-forward, but on the Clips he isn't able to unleash that part of his game to its full potential. This is because there is kind of a guy named Chris Paul on the team, who tends to have the ball in his hands a majority of the time. CP3 controlling most of the playmaking duties is better for the team, so Blake has never been able to realize his potential in this area of his game.
On the Celtics, he could be have more control of the offense in a point-forward role. In the Celtics' pace-and-space system, the lane would be clear, there would be shooters to kick out to. Plus, Isaiah Thomas, unlike Chris Paul, is more than comfortable playing away from the basketball. Just as he showed in the Hawks' series last season, playing Thomas away from the ball often produces great offense. With his sweet stroke from the outside, as well as his movement without the ball, he would be fine with playing away from the ball while Griffin does his best impersonation of Draymond Green.
While there is no doubt Blake is a great fit on the team, some have argued that he's not a superstar and isn't the right guy to pour assets into, if the Celtics are looking for someone to be their franchise changing superstar. To those doubters, turn your attention to the 2013-14 NBA season. If you don't remember, Blake Griffin finished third in MVP voting that year. He was at his super-human best, especially during Chris Paul's absence, where he turned into everything we thought he would be coming out of Oklahoma. To give you a taste, here are Blake's stats in the last 6 games of Paul's injury, as well as the first four of him coming back into action. Here is that 10 game stretch:
32.1 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 3.6 APG, 57.3% on FG, 40% on 3PT
Oh, he's a superstar Celtics fans, he is someone that we could build around. In the right situation, he could be the MVP. Boston is that right situation.
It doesn't seem like many, if any talks have been held between Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers, with some reports refuting the original ones put in place by Sean Deveney (among others). If there haven't been any talks between the two sides, Ainge needs to get on the phones. If there have been talks held, Danny should be ready to throw the kitchen sink at Doc.
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