No need for smooth Blake to struggle at the stripe
Media folk are poking fun at Blake Griffin for firing back-to-back free-throw airballs Wednesday night. They’re also expressing concern that his free-throw woes, along with those of D’Andre Jordan and Reggie Evans, could cost the Clippers dearly in the playoffs.
If I ran the Clippers the first thing I would do is have one of the video assistants make a DVD of all of Blake’s free-throw attempts in March 2011. As a rookie he shot a very respectable .695 from the line after the 2011 all-star break, and .725 (79 for 109) in March. That’s impressive improvement for a young power forward who struggled at the stripe in college (.589 and .590 in his two seasons) and shot just .617 prior to the 2011 all-star break.
I don’t have any of those March 2011 attempts on hand, so I don’t know what the Clippers would discover. But there’s a chance that one or more aspects of that stroke will differ from his current stroke — or should I say his current abrupt snap.
I actually see two different Blakes today. The guy shooting jumpers, in both warmups and games, has a natural-looking delivery. You watch it and say, “That big bruiser is a mighty smooth athlete with a pretty nice stroke, as bruisers go.” But then you watch his routine and delivery at the line and he looks like a poorly programmed robot with a highly technical and technically flawed stroke — a robot whose stroke is short-circuited by some bizarre need to achieve a ridiculous, unnatural, put-your-hand-in-the-cookie-jar-while-holding-it-high follow-through pose.
My guess is that he’s fallen under the spell of some shooting guru with a bogus “scientific” approach built around an obsession with an exaggerated gooseneck finish.
If Blake or the Clippers want help in smoothing out his free-throw delivery so that he looks and feels like himself and gets back on the road to a rising percentage, I’m available. There’s no reason he can’t shoot 70 percent down the home stretch and in the playoffs, and beginning next season settle in to a long career shooting around 80 percent.