The Detroit Pistons are trying to establish a new era in the franchise, as evident in the long list of changes in the front office, coaching staff, and player personnel within the last two years. Included in all the hiring and wheeling-and-dealing is also an intended shift for the team’s best player: Blake Griffin.
Quick side note: following all the moves, Griffin is now become the longest-tenured Piston on the roster. He only arrived in Detroit last January 2018.
While speaking to the media on Wednesday (Manila time), Griffin touched on his new and much deeper role on the team. It’s perhaps rooted on suddenly being an elder statesman on a young, re-building squad. At 31 years of age, he’s also on the last stretch of his prime years.
“As far as coming back and playing, my agenda isn’t to come out and score as many points and shoot as many baskets as possible. It’s never that. It’s to be a complete player, be a leader, when you’re asked to score, score, when you’re asked to do something else, you do that. I don’t think those are two conflicting ideas. You can still be a mentor, you can still develop the young guys.”
Griffin had a superb 2018-19 campaign, notching a career-high 24.5 points per game and earning an All-NBA Third Team selection. He’s one of only two Pistons to get and All-NBA nod since 2007, while that strong scoring output was the team’s highest since 2001.
A knee injury late that season, however, has set the team back since. The issues bled throughout 2019-20, and limited Griffin to just 18 games. Coming off a playoff appearance, the Pistons returned to ‘lottery’ status while he ended up with career-lows: 15.5 ppg, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game on 35.2% shooting. He hasn’t played since December 2019.
Now that Detroit is sporting a new-look roster and Griffin was given extra time to heal, hopes are high that he can be revitalized and be able to contribute better.
The Pistons have added point guard Killian Hayes, big man Isiah Stewart, and forward Saddiq Bey during last month’s draft. All were selected inside the top 19 picks and considered to be intriguing additions, particularly Hayes, who’s the seventh overall pick and is a touted playmaker in the BBL (Basketball Bundesliga).
The free agency period, meanwhile, saw Detroit sign sought-after defensive forward Jerami Grant alongside Mason Plumlee, Jahlil Okafor, and Josh Jackson.
Griffin will still be with other returning Pistons, most notably Derrick Rose, who still has flashes of his old self and is in the same position as Blake. There’s also second-year forward Sekou Doumboya, who has shown a lot of potential.
While we can’t expect the same explosiveness from his heyday with the LA Clippers, it should still be interesting to see how aggressive Griffin can be now that he’s more mature and also focused on redeeming himself.