After struggling for the first couple of months of the 2020-21 season with the Pistons, Griffin and the organization came to an agreement that he would be kept out of action with both the team and his representatives tried to find a destination for him via trade or buyout.
Blake Griffin’s rejuvenation with the Nets is an NBA playoff twist, and the Detroit Pistons find themselves as an unfortunate subplot.
How bad did Griffin struggle with the Pistons? In his 20 games in Detroit, he averaged 12.3 points per game while shooting 36.5 percent from the floor and 31.5 percent from 3-point range. Unable to find any driving lanes, and too hampered by the ravages of knee injuries to be able to make any of his own or overpower defenders, he settled for that inefficient 3-pointer.
As an ostensibly high-usage player, what else was he supposed to do? With nothing but memories of athleticism past, bailing out and relying on the one thing he didn’t need it for in order to get his shots up was a natural response. Of course, even there his elevation for that jumper wasn’t always consistently there for him, particularly as games went on and his energy failed him in fourth quarters.
This Pistons team was designed to lose games competitively in order to build a culture of hard work, regardless of the results, and to capitalize on a potentially historic crop of talent in the coming NBA draft. Griffin being on the floor made losing easy, not just because he wasn’t good, but the team around him wasn’t a winning squad and his presence did nothing to elevate their ability to compete.
Ultimately, Griffin’s presence squeezed players like Saddiq Bey out of the game-to-game rotation, and that wasn’t good for anybody. Bey’s rookie season was full of promise, Griffin provided very little and risked stunted the team’s youth by taking away valuable playing time, and nobody was trying to win anything anyway this season.
After a brief period where the Pistons likely made obligatory calls just in case some NBA team wanted to make a catastrophic mistake and trade for him, the team announced a buyout for Griffin whereby he surrendered $13 million of the $53 million remaining on his contract.
Once freed, he had the choice of which contender he wanted to sign with and swiftly opted to join the Brooklyn Nets. Now, every time Griffin dunks or, well, dunks, national outlets explode with a bizarre rendition of righteous indignation for Pistons fans over what is the only reason these outlets have actually mentioned the Pistons this season at all.
If you too would like to revel in the mortal wound that the national media feels for Pistons fans right now, go ahead and Google that yourself, I won’t be linking any of it here.
So for the Pistons and their fans to feel slighted, as so many suggest they should, they have to actually have been wronged.
Have they been? Let’s take a look at how things would have turned out for the Pistons this season if Blake Griffin had indeed played better, even to the level he is currently playing at for the Brooklyn Nets this season.