Blake Griffin Must Learn Some New Tricks to Stay Injury-Free for Clippers

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent INovember 7, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24: Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers reacts during play against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on October 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Lob City may be without one of its key founders, as Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin is dealing with a burst bursa sac in his elbow as well as a neck strain.  As Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro told Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times, the explosive forward's injury is a "concern," but he will continue to play.

Griffin has been doing fairly well for the Clippers this year, averaging 16.3 points and eight rebounds per game this year while shooting 45 percent from the field.  Those numbers may seem low for him, but keep in mind that this is an injury that has been bothering him since last season.

As a result, while it is important for Griffin to get healthy, it is even more important that he add some variety to his game so that he stays in the lineup and off the trainer's table in the future.  He is too valuable to the Clippers to be hurt all the time, having already missed the 2009-10 season after undergoing microfracture surgery, and the team could be easily sunk with him out for an extended period of time.

Look at it this way: Clippers point guard Chris Paul established the Lob City phenomenon in Los Angeles, often lobbing the ball to Griffin or anyone else for an alley-oop.  Seeing as how Griffin is built for being explosive on the inside at 6'10", 251 pounds, he flourished in this system to the tune of 20.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, shooting 55 percent from the field.

However, it is being so explosive a player in this system that has Griffin in the predicament he's in now.  Nothing against the guy, but his offensive game outside the paint is borderline nonexistent.

As a result, he is so often driving to the basket, going through heavy traffic of big bodies that have one mission: take Griffin down.  Sure enough, he gets fouled hard on a regular basis.

That said, Griffin must learn to diversify his game so that he can stay healthy in the long run, starting with developing a mid-range jumper.  So many big men in the game today, namely Amar'e Stoudemire and Chris Bosh, have good jump shots from the perimeter and beyond and are all the more valuable as a result, so it is actually to Griffin's benefit that he develop this aspect of his game.

More importantly, this will teach him to create off the dribble and be more than just a big guy who can score points and dunk.  If he can use his tremendous size to create mismatches and a better offensive game, then he will be truly unstoppable.

Of course, this transformation all starts with Griffin, not his coaches or trainers.  We're talking about a man who has built his entire brand on his ability to work above the rim, and to suddenly make that only a part of the equation could be risky.

Still, the former Oklahoma Sooner has enough of a motor that, with patience, he will further develop his offense with ease.  The more variant his offense becomes, the more dangerous Griffin is as a whole.

And the more dangerous Griffin is, the more dangerous the Los Angeles Clippers are as a team.