Blake Griffin feeling ‘world of difference’ in left knee, is optimistic for 2020-21 season

Detroit Free Press

The Pistons are in the midst of an extended offseason. It’s given Blake Griffin plenty of time to rehab his knee. 

Griffin, who’s been working out at the practice facility in Midtown this week, said he’s been doing “everything” to get himself back to 100% health. What does “everything” include?

More: Detroit Pistons GM: Blake Griffin ‘definitely in our plans.’ But to play or get traded?

“Doing basketball, weights, conditioning, try to mix it up and do some yoga, do some pilates, anything that can keep it fresh because we don’t know exactly when we’re going to be starting,” Griffin told reporters Thursday during a video conference. “But I feel great. I’ve been in the facility working out this week. No issues. Just ready for when the time comes to play again.” 

After a campaign in which Griffin played 18 games at less-than-full health because of an ailing left knee, he’s feeling better physically and remains optimistic that he’ll be ready to go in time for the 2020-21 season. In January, Griffin underwent season-ending surgery on his knee to address an issue with soreness. It was his second surgery on his left knee in nine months, as he also had a procedure done in April of 2019. 

Left knee soreness caused him to miss the first 10 games of the 2019-20 season. After making his season debut, it became clear that he was physically limited. His stats — 15.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists — were huge dips compared to his 2018-19 output. He didn’t have much lift on his jump shot, which was a major strength of his game during the previous season. 

He rehabbed for 10 consecutive weeks, from mid-March until the end of May, and then resumed his training after a week off. He’s now finishing up his 11th straight week of training. 

“Everything I’ve done, I feel a world of difference,” he said. “Didn’t really have much push-off last season, I was trying to fight through it. Got that taken care of. Strength is way up. My main focus is still strengthening and still working on explosiveness, but also being smart about it and not doing too much too soon just because, at some point, we will have a long season ahead of us.” 

It isn’t yet clear how Griffin, healthy or not, fits into the Pistons’ plans for next season and beyond. When healthy, he’s one of the most talented and versatile offensive players in the NBA. But his contract, which has another guaranteed year and player option worth nearly $39 million in 2021-22, could be difficult to move. 

General Manager Troy Weaver has previously stated that he’s looking forward to working with Griffin, an Oklahoma native. The respect goes both ways. 

“Troy has been great, man. I’ve known him for a while,” Griffin said. “I think he just has a great mindset and he also has a very, very good eye for talent in the NBA. He likes guys who are hard-nosed players, guys who will come in and work, earn their spot. Guys that will compete. That’s what I’m about. …  I feel confident with him leading the charge drafting and everything else, free agency and all of that.” 

The offseason will soon ramp up for Detroit, with the NBA lottery a week away and free agency following two months afterward. The Pistons have much to figure out as they progress through the beginning stages of a rebuild. With a high lottery pick and significant cap space, they have the tools to aggressively remake their roster this fall. 

Griffin and Derrick Rose are the lone players on the roster older than 30. Griffin has maintained that he’s willing to play whatever role the front office needs next season. If he’s healthy, it would certainly increase next year’s ceiling. 

“I know, in my conversations with coach and Troy and the front office, they want to put a competitive team on the floor,” he said. “I’ve told them I’m here to do whatever they ask of me, whether that’s taking on a different role, taking on more of a role, whatever it might be We’ll have a lot of young guys. I think spending a lot of time with them and really setting the foundation in making sure all these guys understand what Pistons basketball is about and the type of basketball we’re trying to play. …  Right now, I’m just here working and trying to be a leader in any way I can.”

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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