The Brooklyn Nets acted quickly to lock up Kevin Durant and make sure that the Durant/James Harden/Kyrie Irving trio was supplemented by veterans eager to win a ring in New York. Blake Griffin proved he is willing to sacrifice production to grab a championship, and he chose to return to the Nets.
The Nets, however, weren’t the only team with title aspirations to make some huge moves. Not only did the Lakers trade almost their entire bench to the Wizards in exchange for Russell Westbrook, but the Heat made some big moves by re-signing Victor Oladipo and poaching Kyle Lowry from Toronto.
Griffin isn’t worried about the competition deciding to get stronger. In fact, he thinks that all of this wheeling and dealing could actually be detrimental to the success of the team, citing past experiences on teams that believed that adding enough superstar players to the mix will eventually overcome chemistry and schematic fits.
Griffin claims that while the Lakers and Heat certainly look better on paper, it’s “tough to say” how that will impact wins and losses. Griffin’s time with the Los Angeles Clippers in his prime serves as an example of what can happen if all of these pieces fail to mesh together in a timely fashion.
Nets big man Blake Griffin warned the Lakers and Heat.
Griffin’s Clippers tenure saw him paired with DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul in their primes. Veteran role players like JJ Redick and Matt Barnes were in place. With Doc Rivers as the coach, the Spurs started to show cracks in the facade, and the Warriors not yet ready to take over, the Clippers looked all set to dominate, right?
Well, Los Angeles never really reached the lofty heights that they set for themselves, and they can point to the fact that there was constant friction between their two big players. Being friends off of the court and playing well together on the court are two totally different animals these teams will have to reckon with.
The Nets have tried to avoid issues like that during their contending era. Durant has been willing to sacrifice shots, Irving gave up primary ball-handling duties to Harden, and Harden started to focus more on rebounding, passing, and defense than just going for 40 every night. That give-and-take could give Brooklyn an edge against other superteams.
Griffin himself seems to have assimilated well into Brooklyn’s culture, as he was quoted saying that he loved his time in New York “from top to bottom.” Griffin was willing to be a complete role player and non-factor on offense at times for the sake of the team, and we still don’t know if LA and Miami will avoid those pitfalls.
While not a superteam to this extent, the 2000s Spurs were able to stick together for some long because the stars understood what they had to do in order to ensure team success and veterans were able to provide timely shot-making in key situations.
It looks like the Nets will be able to avoid some of the pitfalls that talented teams fall into this year if they stick with the same mindset that they were in last year.
Rival fans may point out the irony in the fact that Griffin did join a superstar-laden team in the middle of the season, but he is making some salient points here. The Nets’ keys to success involve staying healthy and making sure that there is minimal internal strife.
Time will tell if the Lakers or Heat implode. Griffin has been through an implosion, so he can recognize the warning signs while being unafraid to call them out.