Pistons’ Blake Griffin feeling ‘world of difference’ as he comes back from knee surgery

Detroit News

In the midst of the Pistons’ extended downtime in the offseason, Blake Griffin was working out this week in the team’s practice facility in midtown Detroit.

It’s a sight fans and coaches didn’t get to see very much last season, and one that they’re looking to see much more of next season.

A healthy Blake Griffin.

Maybe not fully healthy, but certainly better than the version that managed only 18 games this season and posted career lows in almost every category. Since having knee surgery in February, Griffin has worked his way back toward playing shape, but with the NBA suspending the season in March and the Pistons eliminated before the restart, there’s just been a void of time.

In a normal year, Griffin would be in his own workout regimen, but with next season likely not slated to start until December, he’s been working on a different timeline to prepare himself.

“We’re sort of trying to pace ourselves right now, just because we’re probably looking at the earliest a December start, so trying to sort of balance that out,” Griffin said Thursday on a video conference. “I did 10 weeks on, from mid-March to the end of May, 10 weeks on and I took sort of a week off and then I’m finishing up 11 weeks straight with training right now, and I’ll take a week off.

“I’m doing a lot in the weight room and doing a lot on the court but at the same time, trying to scale back from time to time to make sure we’re not ramping up too early.”

Griffin said he’s been working out six days per week and in addition to his regular basketball, weightlifting and conditioning, he’s added other disciplines, including yoga and Pilates, in order to keep things fresh. He noted that he hasn’t had any setbacks or issues in his work, so he’s looking forward to getting back to playing basketball — whenever that might be.

The work this summer has helped him regain some of his strength and even with his subpar partial season, Griffin, 31, is optimistic about what next season can bring — provided he’s healthy.

“I’ve done quite a bit on the court (in the offseason) and everything I’ve done, I feel a world of difference. I just didn’t really have that much push-off last season,” he said. “I was trying to fight through it but got that taken care of. My strength is way up, so 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.”

The Pistons admittedly are in a rebuild — or as new general manager Troy Weaver has dubbed it, a “restoring,” — following their 20-46 truncated season. They have a high lottery pick and significant salary cap space for the first time in a long time, but the sense is that it won’t be a complete roster overhaul, according to Griffin.

They still have Griffin, Derrick Rose and can build on some of their young pieces to try to be competitive next season. Whether that means getting to the playoffs or just on the level below that, it’s a step up from where they’ve been for most of the past decade. Griffin insists that he’ll be flexible in whatever the structure calls for him to do.

“I look for our team to be competitive. I know in my conversations with (Dwane Casey) and Troy and the front office, they want to put a competitive team on the floor. 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, whatever they feel the need for me to do,” Griffin said. “We’ll have a lot of young guys, so I think spending a lot of time with them and really setting the foundation, making sure that all these guys understand what Pistons basketball is all about and the type of basketball we’re trying to play.

“As the season gets closer, as free agency comes and the draft comes, I think you will be able to feel that out more and more but right now I’m here working and trying to be trying to be a leader in any way I can.”

rod.beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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