Yesterday was the NBA trade deadline, and it was a crazy day, especially for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who traded away 40 percent of their roster. Still, the most significant trade of the season happened a week before when the Clippers traded Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons.
At the time, most people applauded the Clippers and scrutinized the Pistons. It made sense for the Clippers to get out of Blake’s contract and get a first-round pick and a good player in Tobias Harris. Blake’s injury history is always scary. The Pistons indeed took a gamble, but so far, it is paying off.
Detroit needed a star. They were having trouble attracting fans and were likely to miss the playoffs this season. Blake, with his history of playing with DeAndre Jordan, has fit in seamlessly with Andre Drummond. In the long run, there are still concerns for the Pistons on how this trade will affect them down the road. In the short term, Blake has been a home run for the Pistons.
In four games with the Pistons, Blake is averaging 21.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.3 assists. More importantly, the Pistons are 4-0 in those games and are tied for the last playoff spot in the east. The Pistons have a real chance to make a playoff run now with Blake as their schedule lightens up down the stretch. Skeptics point to the recent four-game win streak and say it was against inferior competition.
The Pistons beat the Grizzlies, Heat, Blazers, and Nets all at home — two cupcakes in the Nets and Grizzlies and two alright teams in the Heat and Blazers. Even though the schedule has been soft, there is no question Blake has made an immediate impact.
Blake is playing well and the Pistons are winning, but more importantly, he has given the Pistons life. Even Blake himself is playing with more energy and stark. He needed a fresh start. Since Blake arrived, the Pistons are averaging 110 points per game, up from 103 points per game before Blake came. Even their defense has slightly improved; before Blake, they were allowing 103 points per game. Now, they are allowing 101.5 points per game.
The effects on the whole team are everywhere. Stanley Johnson, the third year forward who was looking like a bust and might have been traded, is now perking up. Johnson, since Blake came, is averaging 11.5 points and four rebounds per game. The most prominent impact Blake has had is on Drummond.
Those two have fit perfectly. Both can pass and finish above the rim, and Blake has already found Drummond for several lobs. Drummond is averaging 17 points, 22.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and two assists per game following Blake’s arrival. Those numbers are outrageous. Drummond’s career-high 27 rebound game helped it.
Blake is playing well, Drummond is playing well, Johnson is playing well, and the team is winning. The best part is their star point guard Reggie Jackson is not even playing right now, and when he comes back, that will be a massive lift for the team. With Jackson’s return, Blake, and a soft schedule, the Pistons have a chance to make a run. Detroit is only four games out of the three seed; the east is that tight. According to ESPN’s playoff odds, Detroit has a 61 percent chance of making it and are just projected to miss it. It will be tough, but the Pistons have a legitimate chance.
It is all thanks to Blake. I get the risks are tough to swallow, and his injury history has to be on the Pistons minds at all times. For now, Blake is proving everyone wrong and the Pistons right. He has shown he is good when he is healthy and engaged. Stan Van Gundy trusts him already and is already handing the ball to Blake in crunch time. The Pistons needed star power, and Blake has given it to them.
Blake will get his chance tonight to exact some revenge tonight against his former team the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers may still win this deal in the long run, but it’s working out great for the Pistons so far. Either way, tonight will be fun!