Without fail, every time Blake Griffin is putting on a show, the chirpers come out of the woodwork. “All he does is dunk.” “He never takes jump shots.” “He has no post game.” Those of us who watch closely, who have seen Griffin slowly but surely morph into one of the most powerful offensive forces in the league, know better. The truth is, Griffin has been developing his post game for years, and it’s come to the point where he’s now one of the toughest covers in the league on the low block.
According to mySynergySports, Griffin produces 0.94 points per play (PPP) on post-ups, shooting 47.9% from the field and drawing shooting fouls on 10% of his plays. All this is good enough to make him the 20th most efficient post-up player in the league so far this season. Each of these numbers represents a sharp increase over Griffin’s 2011-12 campaign, when he averaged 0.83 PPP on post-ups, shot 44.9% from the field, drew shooting fouls on 8.8% of his plays and ranked 71st in PPP. His “Score Percentage” (FG% + Shooting fouls drawn% – TO%) on post-up plays has jumped over 5% as a result.
It may not always be pretty, and he may not have the full variety of moves of a Hakeem Olajuwon or a Kevin McHale, but the moves he does have, he’s damn good at.
Middle Hook Shot
Option number one in the post for Griffin is the hook shot. It’s not a Kareem-esque skyhook or a jump hook you see from someone like Al Jefferson. It’s more like a baby hook that can sometimes appear to be a push shot.
Though he is right handed, Griffin actually seems to prefer this move when operating on the right block and going to his left. He can get off his hook shot when backing guys down or facing them up, but he almost always prefers to spin toward the middle of the court rather than the baseline. Although this essentially removes the option of banking the hook shot off the glass, it gives Griffin a closer shot than if he were to go with the baseline hook.
Every go-to move needs a counter, and the counter to Griffin’s middle hook is the baseline drop step. He’ll back his man down like he’s going to attack the middle of the floor with the hook, and then suddenly he’s spinning baseline, sealing his man off and either banking in a layup off the glass or dunking in his face.
Like his hook, he will freely go to the drop step when backing down or facing his man up. He seems equally comfortable with this move on either block, showing the necessary dexterity to pull it off consistently. His wide body, strong base and powerful shoulders allow him to create the necessary space to seal his man and lay the ball in without getting it blocked, and his ridiculous athleticism allows for creative finishing when an open shooting lane isn’t exactly there for the taking.
The step through/up-and-under move is another staple of Griffin’s post game, and like the drop step, also works as an effective counter to his middle hook. The step through move almost always involves a quick up-fake to his left (which is how he likes to take his hook), followed by Griffin pivoting off his right foot, stepping through with his left and finishing either off the glass or with a quick dunk.
He’s so explosive that the defender almost has to commit to the initial move, which makes the quick rip through that much more effective. Again he is comfortable using this move from either the left or the right block block, and turning either baseline or middle.
If he doesn’t immediately take a jump shot when facing his man up out of the post, Griffin will almost always use his rocker step to try to create a driving lane for himself. He’s got the quickness to beat almost any power forward off the dribble, so this move might actually be Griffin’s most dangerous in the post. Like most of his other post moves, Griffin is patient with this one, sometimes swinging his pivot foot and cocking the ball into position multiple times before he actually attacks his man.
His preferred route is to swing that right leg enough times to get his man to open his hips toward the baseline, where Griffin can blow by him to the rim, use his body to shield off a block, and either lay it up or dunk it. Griffin has gotten quite a few rim rattling dunks from using his rocker step, but he also knows when the baseline isn’t there and has the understanding and requisite skill to adjust his path.
Last but not least, the one post move that almost every post player has in their arsenal: the fadeaway. Griffin’s isn’t pretty, but it’s pretty effective.
He fades far backward when taking this shot (probably due to that crazy athleticism mentioned earlier), but it doesn’t seem to affect his form all that much. His form looks more fluid this year than in years past in general, but especially on his fadeaway. He used to have a hitch in his jumper than got more pronounced when fading away, but this year that’s essentially gone.
This is a move Griffin prefers to use almost exclusively from the left block, turning and unleashing the fadeaway over his right shoulder. He can get it from his faceup game or backing down, and he can swish it or bank it off the glass.