During the last season, Blake Griffin scored 1,368 points with 717 rebounds, 54 steals and 48 blocks. Kevin Love scored 1,432 points with 734 rebounds, 47 steals and 28 blocks. Griffin threw in an extra 100 assists and Love provided an extra 100 three pointers, but essentially they were even in terms of production provided your math isn’t too precise. They are close enough, though, until you look at a different figure – Griffin was ranked 62nd by ESPN’s Player Rater and 149th by Yahoo!, whereas Love was ranked 5th and 4th, respectively, by the same two sites.
So what’s the difference? Well, I think the extra three pointers are being weighed more favorably than the assists, but it’s more than that; when Love was put on the free throw line, he made his shots. Griffin had more trouble hitting a free throw than Ben Wallace if he had Parkinson’s Disease.
There is clearly real life value to a good free throw shooter, but there is fantasy impact as well. Love had an .824 FT% compared to Griffin’s .521 FT%. Consider that. If a team wants to stop Blake Griffin, foul him. If he goes to the line ten times, he’s only getting ten points. He cost fantasy owners big time in 2011. Over the four month season, he missed 281 free throws (out of 499). Could your team have used an extra 281 points? Mine could have.
There’s room for optimism. His FT% the season prior was .642, a rate he nearly matched (.636) in the postseason, which came after a grueling, shortened season, which, of course, may have affected his stats. Boy, I haven’t seen this many whiches since I bought a hoagie on Halloween, but I digress. What’s the moral of this story? As Adam already talked about, regardless of all the value Griffin provides, he needs to learn how to hit a basket from 14 feet directly in front of him. Anything shy of .700 is not going to cut it anymore. Use the bloody backboard if you have to!