Just a few weeks ago Blake Griffin was riding the bench. Out of the starting lineup and out of the rotation, chances were few and far between for the six-time NBA All-Star.
However, Griffin has been given a bit of a second chance by the Nets out of necessity due to the high number of players in the NBA’s health and safety protocol. Griffin has had to play in 30 or more minutes in each of Brooklyn’s last three games as the COVID outbreak spread around the Nets locker room.
“I take pride in it for sure. It’s my job,” Griffin said on Saturday night about his ability to be ready to play. “I wish I could have done more in the second half tonight, but to do all that stuff to stay ready and then can’t really be 100% in the second half. That’s frustrating, but it would be more frustrating if I didn’t stay ready and I wasn’t there for my teammates. Cause everyone is there for each other. That’s the mentality we have to have all season.”
Griffin had to play through some pain in Saturday’s loss to the Orlando Magic, Brooklyn’s last game before the NBA postponed Sunday’s game against the Denver Nuggets and Tuesday’s game against the Washington Wizards.
Still, he has appeared to rise to the occasion with 10 players out due to COVID protocol. And the power forward has looked a bit more comfortable in his shot.
Griffin averaged 15.7 points, seven rebounds, and 4.7 assists on 49% shooting in the Nets’ three games following the start of the COVID outbreak. Over that span, Griffin has also shot 6-for-19 from beyond the arc and attempted a season-high 10 three-pointers on Saturday.
The power forward had struggled from beyond the arc, having missed 23 straight three-point attempts entering last Tuesday’s matchup with the Toronto Raptors.
“Blake has played great,” head coach Steve Nash said. “I’ve said too there’s always something around the corner in this league. So although he was out of the rotation for a little while, we knew something would happen and he’d his opportunity again.
“He’s a pro and worked his butt off and stayed in shape. Found a rhythm and he’s playing good basketball. … His effort was outstanding.”
Now the question becomes what will happen to Griffin’s playing time once the Nets start to get some of their players back from COVID protocol. Brooklyn should get a bulk of their players back by Saturday’s Christmas Day contest with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Playing 30-plus minutes a night was never going to be a sustainable plan for the NBA veteran. However, Griffin seems to have found a bit of his game through this recent trial-by-fire scenario the Nets have played through and Nash seemed to be impressed with what he has seen.
After a rough start to the year and finding himself out of the rotation, it seems through all of the chaos of last week Griffin has found a way to work his way back in.