Blake Griffin enjoys resurgence year after trade to Detroit Pistons

The Celtics' Marcus Smart, left, defends Detroit Pistons' Blake Griffin during the first half in Boston on Wednesday. (AP photo)

By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT — Blake Griffin doesn’t need to jump over any cars to be a hit in the Motor City.
A year after arriving in Detroit with his career at a crossroads, a more earthbound Griffin is doing all he can to shake the Pistons out of their decade-long malaise.
“He does a little bit of everything for us. Probably one of our better pick-and-roll players, passers, scorers, leader by example, just so many things,” Detroit coach Dwane Casey said. “His basketball intellect, for me, is one that’s been the most impressive of our players. I didn’t know that about Blake, because when you think about him, you think about the high-flying dunker and the muscular guy in the post, but there’s a lot more to that than just his dunking and athleticism.”
A month shy of his 30th birthday, there are fewer above-the-rim highlights but Griffin’s first full season with Detroit has been one of his best. He’s averaging a career-high 26.3 points per game while making strides as a perimeter shooter, and he earned his first All-Star selection since 2015.
Most importantly, he’s been able to stay healthy, and although the Pistons still have a losing record, they’re in the playoff race, largely because of Griffin.
“As a player, you always believe in yourself,” Griffin said. “I knew I had another level to go to, and being healthy was part of that. … But the beginning of the year, my goal isn’t to only make the All-Star team. It’s much more than that.”
In July 2017, Griffin agreed to a $171 million, five-year deal with the Clippers, the team that drafted him with the first overall pick in 2009. Less than a year later, he was abruptly traded — from glitzy Los Angeles to a Detroit franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game since 2008.