Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks was not on social media Tuesday night when his starting power forward Blake Griffin started trending after two thunderous dunks on Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III .
But it didn’t surprise him that the former dunk contest champion was still able to rise to complete the sensational dunk.
“He would be the first to say that he will no longer jump over a car,” Marks told ESPN. “But I think it’s pretty clear to almost anyone who watches him play that it feels good.”
“Honestly, I think it’s almost, day by day, that it just keeps getting better and better.”
When he joined the Nets as a free agent in February after reaching a buyout deal with the Detroit Pistons, Griffin had not had a dunk in a game since December 12, 2019. In 28 games since joining the Nets, he has 19 dunks. But it’s not just a change of scenery, or championship prospects, that is driving him.
Griffin’s manager, Taylor Griffin, told ESPN that his brother always targeted March on his return from a second arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, which affected him in Detroit’s run to his first appearance in the Los Angeles. playoffs in three years during the 2019 season.
When the NBA decided to move the start of this season to Christmas, Griffin still had three months of rehab work to do on his return from his second knee surgery in less than nine months.
“It was definitely a rushed schedule,” Taylor Griffin said. “And I think we saw that a lot of players just needed a little more time to get back in playing condition.
“He had already been absent much of the previous year, there was no possibility of him sitting [al comienzo de esta temporada]. … His knee was 100% healthy, but there is a difference in that your body is healthy and ready to play NBA level minutes every night. “
In other words, Griffin wasn’t going to get too high looking for dunks. He had already been through too great a setback after the first surgery, in April 2019, did not correct the knee problem. “It didn’t come out so clean [la rodilla] the first time as we would have hoped, “said Taylor Griffin.” He always felt there was something out of place the whole time he was trying to play last season.
“But the difference was felt like day and night after the second procedure [en enero de 2020]”.
Griffin averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 20 games for the Pistons this season before both parties agreed to work on a trade or buyout. The Pistons were beginning a rebuild under new general manager Troy Weaver, while the 31-year-old Griffin had just spent a year and a half trying to get his right knee back in shape so he could pick up where he left off when the Pistons qualified at the playoffs.
Griffin returned a significant amount of money as part of his purchase agreement with the Pistons. Once he approved the waivers, Brooklyn quickly became his first choice.
Marks and the Nets considered Griffin’s health carefully when they signed him as a free agent.
“We were going to take our time with him,” Marks said. “Just to make sure we weren’t pushing him too far, too fast, too early, etc.” We knew what we were getting in terms of veteran player and high IQ. So it was about being able to maximize what he had left in his career. And from the first day we got it, we could see, ‘Okay, there’s still gas in the tank.’
Griffin has been far more productive, at about 10 fewer minutes per game with the Nets, than with the Pistons, shooting 12.7% better from the field and 6.8% better from behind the 3-point arc.
But it’s those dumps that have attracted attention on social media.
“We knew he could still hit dunks like this,” said Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports, Griffin’s longtime agent. “It wasn’t a surprise. It was just a matter of time.”