It’s been a few years since the dunk that kick-started Blake Griffin’s career, the dunk that turned the name “Mozgov” into a verb for NBA enthusiasts and started the trend of social media imploding whenever someone gets posterized. Since that November game in 2010, Blake Griffin has risen as one of the most polarizing stars in the NBA. People thought he was only a dunker, a spoiled franchise player who only complained to refs after breaking his hand by punching a Clippers staff member and a problem. Despite all this fanfare, should he really be traded?
This season, Griffin is averaging 23 points, just under nine rebounds and five assists on 50 percent shooting from the field. However, one number that stands out is 30. Griffin has only played in 30 of the Clippers’ 51 games. More importantly, he’s missed their last 20 games, in which the team has gone 16-4. With Blake Griffin gone, everyone else on the Clippers has stepped up. Chris Paul is now, once again, the best player on this team and as one of the elite point guards in the league, he is leading this team to victory after victory. With Griffin’s presence gone in the post, the Deandre Jordan-Chris Paul combo in the pick and roll has had more space to work and Deandre is free to flex after all those alley-oops he’s throwing down. J.J. Redick has also been on absolute fire as of late. In the month of January, he averaged 17 points a game, shooting 49 percent from beyond the arc. With the roll this team has been on, is it any wonder that people are starting to question Blake Griffin’s importance to the team?
It’s true that we haven’t seen much evidence of the Clippers shopping Griffin. However, it is also evident that it’s on some people’s minds with all these rumors flying around. From the Nuggets to the Knicks and even the Thunder, speculations have begun to flare up in full force. Whispers of Blake Griffin leading a Denver team or maybe the fantasy of Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony finally playing together? The list can go on and on. Blake Griffin injuring his shooting hand for a significant amount of time because he hit someone is not a good look for his character and is most likely going to provide fuel to those trade rumors. The Clippers are a very good but stagnant team and there is a belief growing that change must be made in order to bring a championship to the other team in Los Angeles.
On the other hand, we’ve seen Chris Paul paired with both a dangerous shooter and a center to finish his lobs: the 2007-2008 New Orleans Hornets fell to the San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Semifinals, proving that while Paul is incredibly talented and determined, he cannot do everything. Blake Griffin, misgivings aside, is a bona fide superstar. He is learning how to carry a team on his back for stretches and with his improving jumper, he is an athletic freak turned scoring machine that will continue to run over at least half of the big men in the league. The Clippers probably do have to shake things up, but trading Blake Griffin isn’t the way to go. Not only would it be hard to replace him, but why would they want to? He’s only 26 and constantly getting better. For better or for worse, it’s the Clippers’ best bet to stick with BG.