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Blake Griffin, Pistons


Blake Griffin’s health an early concern for Pistons

Blake Griffin isn’t healthy right now. Let’s all take a moment to gasp in our surprise.

The Detroit Pistons star, who underwent knee surgery during the offseason, is now dealing with hamstring soreness just ahead of the Pistons’ season opener on Wednesday, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

It doesn’t sound too serious, and Griffin himself isn’t too concerned, per James Edwards III of The Athletic, but any time we hear “Blake Griffin” and “soreness” in the same sentence, ears perk up.

Griffin actually played in 75 games last season, marking the first time he appeared in 70 contests since the 2013-14 campaign.

It’s no secret that he has been injury-prone throughout his NBA career, and his explosive and violent style of play in which he has tried to dunk over and through everybody has not done his body any favors.

But we finally saw a glimmer of hope with Griffin last year before a late-season knee injury hijacked what was arguably the best season of his career, or at least one of them.

Gone are the days of Griffin strictly being known as a dunker. Now, the 30-year-old is a lethal 3-point threat (no, seriously) and is one of the best all-around offensive big men in the league.

He never quite became an elite defender, but it is what it is.

Griffin’s value comes from his ability to do virtually everything on the offensive end, whether that’s scoring in the post, shooting from the perimeter, getting to the free-throw line or facilitating for his teammates.

Make no mistake: the Pistons have no chance of making the playoffs — even in the Eastern Conference — if Griffin is not healthy this season.

Heck, even if Griffin plays in every single game (which is an obvious long shot), Detroit still might not make the postseason, as the team around Griffin just isn’t very good.

So imagine Dwane Casey’s concern right now, and imagine what will be going through the minds of the Pistons’ front office if Griffin misses a good chunk of the first half of the season for whatever reason and the trade deadline rolls around with Detroit all but out of the playoff picture.

At that point, free-agent-to-be Andre Drummond has to become available unless the Pistons plan on paying through the nose for him next summer. Reggie Jackson will probably land on the trade block, too. Heck, even Derrick Rose.

Detroit’s 2019-20 success hinges almost solely on the health of Griffin. Yes, it will also take strong efforts from Drummond and Jackson and a step forward from youngster Luke Kennard. Throw in a productive year from rookie Sekou Doumbouya, too.

But it starts and ends with Griffin. Even then, the Pistons may want to consider blowing it all up come February, as this is not a team that is capable of doing much other than serving as a sacrificial lamb in the first round of the playoffs.

All of that being said, let’s put that aside for a minute and just hope that Griffin can stay healthy for himself, because it would be a shame if yet another injury-plagued season further littered what has been a career full of what-could-have-beens.