This season, Texas Legends' forward Eric Griffin continued to turn heads due to his leaping ability and freakish athleticism. The high-flyer was not only an NBA D-League all-star, but also a fan-favorite heading into the minor league's Slam Dunk Contest.
Of course, all of this attention was garnered due to his respective prowess on the offensive end. Griffin is a talented player who can score the basketball in a number of different ways while taking advantage of mismatches. Such success on that end of the floor sometimes makes it easy to forget or overlook what the young gun does on the defensive end.
But as fate would have it, this is where he truly shines. Plenty of players can score the basketball, but it takes absolute versatility to make an impact in more ways than one.
In the interest of guarding up, Griffin has the ability to defend three different positions on the floor. He's quick, agile, has long arms, and even better instincts. He's obviously not afraid to use his physicality and throw his body around a bit, either.
Over the course of this campaign, all of that and more was on display as Griffin attempted to make his impact amongst the Legends' handful of NBA veterans in town. Doing so successfully, the forward ranked second in the league with 2.4 blocks per contest, while also averaging 1.3 steals per contest. Perhaps more impressively, Griffin stands tall on the short list of minor leaguers who ranked in the top 25 in both blocks and steals categories, joined only by Westchester Knicks' forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo. Kyle Anderson, a frequent San Antonio Spurs' D-League assignee, is the only other player who was able to accomplish such a feat this season.
Given that Anderson currently plays in the NBA, and Antetokounmpo's rights are owned by the New York Knicks after the team selected him in the NBA Draft last summer, it would appear as though Griffin remains in unique, and rather impressive, company.
For his pesky nature on this end of the floor, Griffin has been named RidiculousUpside.com's Defensive Player of the Year for the 2014-15 NBA D-League season. It's a deserving honor, to say the least, given his production.
Runner-up for RU's D.P.O.Y award: Westchester Knicks' forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who ranked in the top ten in both blocks and steals this season, averaging 1.7 in each respective category.
Last season's winner: Sioux Falls Skyforce center Justin Hamilton