Trail Blazers

Why Blake Griffin makes sense for the Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers

Blake Griffin is on the open market. 

News broke early Friday that the Detroit Pistons have decided to waive the 12-year veteran. Griffin is expected to clear waivers at 5PM Sunday, at which point he will be able to sign with any team he wants. 

Plenty of playoff-bound teams will be lining up for his services, and one of those teams may be the Trail Blazers. 

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Trail Blazers, Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, and Miami Heat are currently in the mix. 

Subscribe to the Talkin' Blazers podcast

While many fans balk at the idea of an aging former star that doesn't have the bounce he once did, there is still plenty that Griffin can offer. 

He can still score, he can still clean the glass, and is a solid passer for a big man. For the season Griffin holds averages of 12.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. But his numbers are coming on the 10-26 Pistons team that has struggled to find its groove. 

Griffin is the Piston's third-leading scorer.  On a playoff-bound team, Griffin can take more of an auxiliary role, something that is better suited for him at this point of his career. 

 

That is why Portland makes sense. 

The Blazers still need help in the big department, and Griffin can offer that help. If for nothing else, just to add depth. Enes Kanter is the only Blazers big that has played all 35 games this season. Jusuf Nurkic, Harry Giles, and Zach Collins have all missed significant time, Carmelo Anthony missed a game earlier this season due to health and safety protocols, and Derrick Jones Jr., who can play power forward at times, has missed four games well. Just to add depth, Griffin can help. 

However, if the Blazers sign Griffin it would likely be for more than just depth. It would be to play a significant role. 

There are only two logical options for Griffin on this Blazers roster: Starting power forward or end of the bench big, and he's not signing anywhere to get DNPs.

The reason he only makes sense as a starter is because of two things:

1) With a healthy Nurkic, there is no way Stotts plays Griffin over Enes Kanter.

2) Carmelo has a solid grasp on the backup PF spot and that's not going to change any time soon. He re-signed knowing he would get minutes and Portland needs to keep that bond intact.

So, if Griffin comes, he's coming to start... and that might not be a bad idea. 

Coach Stotts could make some moves that might not necessarily improve the starting lineup but can improve the rotation as a whole.

If the Blazers start Griffin at PF, the next logical move would be to move Robert Covington to small forward. In a fully healthy post-break lineup, the Blazers can roll with Lillard - McCollum - Covington - Griffin - Nurkic. That is not a bad starting lineup by any means. 

In that lineup, Griffin is the fourth, if not the fifth option. It would be great for him to know that he doesn't have to try to shoulder the load like he did in Detroit. He can just play loose, free, and wait for Dame to find him cutting to the rim. When your back end of the starting lineup is still a double-digit scorer, you are in a great spot. 

Where it would help the Blazers the most though is in the bench rotation. Moving Roco to small forward would in-turn move Derrick Jones Jr. to the bench. Jones could then take Rodney Hood's minutes as the main small forward for the second unit. 

Hood has been great for Portland, but it's obvious he is not the same Rodney Hood we saw pre-injury. The shot is coming around, but his defense has taken a major hit. The Achilles injury has robbed him of some of his lateral quickness and Hood has struggled to stay in front of players on the defensive end. With Jones Jr. in his spot the second unit would have a better scorer, better rebounder, and a go-to defender. 

 

Signing Griffin wouldn't just be about how the former All-Star would fit in. It's about how he impacts the entire lineup, and that impact would be positive. 

With Griffin, the Blazers rotation could be:

Starters:

Lillard - McCollum - Covington - Griffin - Nurk

Bench:

Simons - Trent Jr. - Jones Jr. - Anthony - Kanter

...and you still have Nassir Little, Rodney Hood, and Harry Giles, and maybe even Zach Collins if he returns to full health this season. That's a solid lineup.

Now, before you turn your nose at this idea or think there is zero chance he signs with Portland, let's remind you of the biggest reason it makes sense for him to land in Portland: Neil Olshey.

Griffin is a Neil Olshey guy. Olshey drafted Griffin when he was the Clippers GM in 2009. Olshey also drafted Al-Farouq Aminu with the Clippers in 2010 and was able to get him to Portland as soon as he could. Never underestimate Olshey's ability to get his guys to sign-up when he needs to.

At the very least, there is zero risk in signing Griffin, so you might at well shoot your shot.

Will he end up in a Blazers jersey? We may have an answer by Sunday night.