Despite barely knowing his new team’s offense, Blake Griffin’s Pistons debut went as well as he or Detroit could have hoped. Griffin had arrived in town only the day before, and after the game, he noted that coach Stan Van Gundy had implemented just five go-to plays in the unfamiliar team’s arsenal. “We ran them to death, but they worked,” he said. Griffin had a game-high 24 points to go with 10 rebounds and a team-leading five assists in a 104-102 win over the Grizzlies.
Griffin is the type of marquee player that a franchise like Detroit could almost never get, and he lived up to the hype, running the offense like a point guard when needed and playing both aggressively and unselfishly. It wasn’t especially flashy—11 of his 24 points came from free throws—but Griffin also assisted on the game’s most dramatic basket, a three from Anthony Tolliver with under two minutes to play that gave Detroit a 101-100 lead. He was worth the price of admission.
In some corners of the internet, there’s a feeling that this Griffin trade was a desperate move that will be horrible for the Pistons, considering all the future assets they gave up to get him. But that doesn’t matter, at least not right now. Sure, there’s the typical trade risk always built into any move, and if Griffin gets hurt or Tobias Harris becomes a star, the Pistons will have regrets. But Detroit was painful to watch in the previous state they were in, and suddenly, they’re exciting again. The Pistons had to make a change, and right now, it’s a change for the better. That’s all anyone could want out of a trade.