When looking for players to fill out their respective rosters, NBA teams look for those who can make notable impacts without the ball. There are already so many dominant scorers in the league. Teams need complementary guys who can play good defense, run up and down the court well, spread the floor, and perhaps even ignite the crowd every now and then, too.
Normally when scouring the minor league for talent, a big league staffer would be lucky to find someone who fits one of those respective niches rather nicely. But in the rare case of Eric Griffin, one would be able to put a "check" in any number of those columns relatively easily.
Griffin is an absolute athletic freak. His enthusiasm for the game electrifies the D-League hardwood on a nightly basis. His high-flying prowess warranted a spot in the league's Slam-Dunk contest this past February during NBADL All-Star Weekend (he was subsequently named an All-Star as well), but as the season has progressed, Griffin's been able to ensure that his long arms and relative soaring ability pays dividends on the defensive end as well. The forward throws block parties regularly; his 2.4 blocks per contest ranks third in all of the minor league.
His impact on the court doesn't end there, as Griffin stuffs the stat-sheet each and every game. Not only has he been able to average 18.8 points on a Texas Legends' team full of notable NBA veterans, but the young gun also logs 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.4 steals per contest. At just 6'8," Griffin boasts a larger than life type game. Whereas he may be more suited in the NBA as a three, he's still managed to assert himself as a strong power forward in the smaller D-League. He's already garnered interest from multiple teams.
"Having seen him in NBA Summer League and now in the D-League, it's obvious Eric Griffin is talented enough to play in the NBA. His athleticism isn't a question," Scott McGuire recently told RidiculousUpside.com. "He is very active on both ends -- and has the versatility to be a lock-down defender on the wing -- as well as a rim protector. On offense, I can see him translating into a stretch 4/3, especially now that he's making his three's. Frankly, I'm not sure why someone hasn't taken him already."
There's no doubt Griffin is an assertive and confident player around the basket with the ball in his hands. Having said that, as McGuire, who was a scout for the Knicks for twenty-five years, alluded to, Griffin has most recently been able to (also) prove his worth by keeping defenses honest and knocking down shots from long range. In addition to shooting 46% from the field, the forward is converting on 37% of his shots from deep.
There's plenty to be intrigued about when it comes to Griffin. There's no doubt he's the most athletic D-League player not in the NBA today. As the season has progressed. he's emerged into all the more versatile of a talent, shoring up any holes and putting to rest any doubts front office executives may have had with him previously. With plenty of upside to explore, any numbers of teams could benefit from taking a chance on him.