To all of the loyal The Fro and The Flow podcast fans out there, I'm sure you're aware that Jack Martin and I have a nearly-weekly segment titled Watch The Throne (Yes, the segment is inspired by the greatest collaboration of all-time, Watch The Throne, by Jay-Z and Kanye West).
During this podcast segment, Jack Sparkin' and I break down the most talented basketball players in the world at that current moment by ranking them 1-15 (Think of it like this: If you were to start an NBA team today from scratch, zilch, nada, who would be the first player that you'd choose to help you win if they were all available?).
Because Jack and I are so dedicated to watching, observing, and sucking however much milk we can out of the NBA's utter, and are also two separate human beings, we have some disagreements every so often.
This daily column over the next 23 days will be relatively similar to that segment. The biggest, and most important difference is that this cluster fuck of a ranking will be an attempt towards breaking down the most valuable players in the NBA in accordance with how vital they are to their team's success.
(Say, if you took Stephen Curry off of the Golden State Warriors, would they still be able to win a championship this season? Or if you took Giannis off of the Bucks would they win 45 games? And other hypothetical things of that nature).
This is what the rankings look like so far.
THE SUBSTANCE REPORT RANKINGS
30. Lou "Two Girls and They Get Along Like I'm Lou Will" Williams
29. Domantas "Arvydas's Son" Sabonis
28. Montrezl "Holy Shit That Guy Tries Hard" Harrell
27. Mike "Never Leaving Memphis Because Cash Rules Everything Around Me C.R.E.A.M.!" Conley
26. Klay "Not Just Steph's Sidekick" Thompson
25. Trae "Ugliest Player in the League" Young
24. Ben "Kendall Jenner's Bae/Fresh Prince" Simmons
23. Nikola "Diet Jokic" Vucevic
22. Karl-Anthony "Who Was the Last Good Player With Two First Names?" Towns
21. Blake "Pray My Knees Will Be Okay Come April" Griffin
At the peak of his career, Blake Griffin was a top five player in the NBA. He was essentially whatever scouts want Zion Williamson to strive for. A muscular power forward with mind bending athletic abilities, but also a feel for the game that is just as hypnotizing as his leaping ability.
During his tenure with the Clippers, Griffin served as the secondary playmaker after the legendary point god, Chris Paul. His playmaking responsibilities may have been lesser than they are now, but his skills may have been even more dominant back then due to his ridiculous athleticism pre-injury.
Since his several knee injuries, Griffin has had a major change of scenery. Going from Los Angeles to Detroit is about as drastic as it gets as far as scenery adjustments go in the NBA (except for maybe Kawhi's journey from San Antonio to Toronto). But the adjustment has proved more than anything else that Blake is capable of being an All-Star Caliber player no matter what city he's playing in.
BG has had moments of brilliance in his eight year career (remember that he sat out his entire "rookie year" with a knee injury), but his most impressive season fundamentally has been happening right in front of our eyes in the 2018-19 season. Griffin is averaging a career high in points per game with an impressive 24.6 points per outing.
His scoring output is up largely due to his quality volume shooting threes. Griffin is shooting nearly 7 threes per game, and is making around 36% of those attempt. Blake's polishing of his jump shot has taken a lot of time over the years, but it's proved to be useful considering the trends of the current NBA.
Here's a look at how Blake's statistics this season compare to his career stats.
Blake Griffin Statistics
Career: 21.8 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 4.5 APG, 50% FG, 34% 3PT, 69.1% FT, 0.5 BPG, 0.9 SPG, 2.6 TO
This season: 24.6 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 5.4 APG, 47% FG, 36% 3PT, 74.4% FT, 0.4 BPG, 0.7 SPG, 3.5 TO
There are a few of Griffin's statistics that suggest he's been declining this year in comparison to the rest of his career, but I believe that those are simply indicators of the situation that he is in more so than they are indicators of his effectiveness. The three statistics are rebounds, field goal percentage, and turnovers.
First of all, his rebounds are down nearly 1.5 per game. This is directly affected by his frontcourt partner, Andre Drummond, who is averaging nearly 16 (!) rebounds per game. You can't blame BGriff for not being able to inhale more boards when Drummond is suffocating the backboards already.
Griffin isn't asked by the Pistons to play like a big man in the same way he was asked to by the Clippers while he was in Los Angeles. He's now more capable of showcasing his talent on the perimeter than ever, which is going to lead him away from the basket. As a result, this takes Griffin away from closer range shots more often. This also forces the ball to be in his hands more, which in turn leads to more turnovers. If you're going to want to get better at one area of your game, then you're going to have to sacrifice another.
This is exactly what Griffin has done this year. He's evolved into the prototypical power forward and has the potential to do a lot of damage in the Eastern Conference playoffs that won't feature a lot of star players with considerable playoff experience.