Israel will be forever known as Eric Griffin’s saving grace in his professional basketball timeline. Cleared of an attempted murder charge in June, the 26-year-old, former NBA talent sought to rebound from the unfortunate incident and signed with Galil Gilboa, of the Israeli Basketball Premier League, in August.
A hotbed for overseas talent and NBA pursuers, the Israeli Basketball Premier League isn’t a desolate wasteland in terms of stock fluidity. Griffin excelling during his one-year contract with Galil Gilboa could propel him into a desired NBA gig. However, he’s focused on helping his newest team win a league title for the first time since 2011, while also including his counterparts in the effort.
“I just want to play well and help my team win a Championship,” Griffin told Ridiculous Upside. “I like to score, but I also like to get my teammates involved.”
Sharing the ball won’t be Griffin’s primary role on the team; he’s a big addition, both literally and figuratively. It’s rare for a team like Galil Gilboa to acquire a former NBA player, especially one that provides an immediate upgrade in the frontcourt. They’ve landed what could be one of the league’s top contributors in Griffin.
Also, outside of 6-foot-7 forward Demetrius “Tree” Treadwell, Galil Gilboa doesn’t boast a prominent frontcourt talent on offense they can consistently go to. Griffin offers some floor spacing potential, sinking 36.8 percent (98-of-266) of his threes for the Texas Legends of the D-League during the 2014-15 season, but what puts the Campbell University product in another realm than his peers is his athleticism.
It would be an understatement to suggest that Griffin is athletic. He oozes athleticism, skying over adversaries and posterizing foes.
In the compilation video above, Griffin abuses NBA bigs, including Minnesota’s Adrien Payne and Kings behemoth Sim Bhullar. However, his crowning achievement as a voracious high flyer was his put-back dunk over All-Star Andre Drummond in the 2013 Orlando Summer League.
Griffin could overwhelm the Israeli Basketball Premier League with his sheer athleticism. It’s fathomable, considering his resume is littered with highlight reel dunks. There’s also some merit in Griffin’s showboat-esque approach, trying to throw down monster tomahawks and finishes when taking flight.
Not only will Griffin’s dunk attempts amplify his shooting efficiency, they’ll be difficult for defenders to deny at the rim. If Griffin can win against athletic D-League stalwarts, he’ll thrive seeking out less daunting Israeli defenders to embarrass and score on.
It’s an obvious benefit to ease some of the other new players into the system, feeding Griffin either on the perimeter or in the paint and asking him to get a necessary bucket. At previous stops playing for Aurora Fileni BPA Jesi, Guaros and Leones de Ponce, along with Texas in the D-League, Griffin illustrated his offensive efficiency by sporting a field-goal percentage topping 43.7 percent throughout every campaign.
Barring any setbacks, it should be a welcomed addition on Galil Gilboa, a team that boasted five players that shot over 50 percent in the 2015-16 season.
On the other side of the ball, Griffin’s uniqueness compared his teammates is also evident. That world class bounce he implements on the offensive end also plays a role in his rim protection.
“It's one of my favorite parts of the game, keeping the other team from scoring, or blocking a dunk attempt to keep momentum on our side,” Griffin said.
Griffin is the two-way player Galil Gilboa has been clamoring for. Loaded with rocket launchers in his shoes, Griffin ascends regularly to reject close-range shot attempts. He averaged 2.3 BPG in the 2014-15 season for Texas. To delve into why Griffin’s shot blocking proficiency is crucial, Treadwell led Galil Gilboa with 1.3 BPG last season. With the fluidity of leagues overseas, with players signing one-year deals if they aren’t natives of the respective countries or veterans, Griffin is a necessity.
While teams could freely advise their players to attack the basket, that won’t be as likely with Griffin in the fold. He’ll instantly have coaches designing ways to mitigate his effectiveness on the less glamorous end. It’s an ideal scenario, with Griffin possessing a skill set that is welcomed and lacking on Galil Gilboa.
Israel is a haven for Griffin. With a clean slate and bringing legitimate two-way ability to Galil Gilboa, it’s the ideal restart to Griffin’s volatile career.