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Why The Utah Jazz’s Two-Way Signings Were Perfect

Editor Dakota Schmidt explains why the Jazz signing both Eric Griffin and Nate Wolters to two-way deals were perfect moves.

NBA: Preseason-Denver Nuggets at Minnesota Timberwolves Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Late last week, the Utah Jazz announced that they signed veteran point guard Nate Wolters to a two-way deal. This move represented the team signing their final two-way player as he follows Eric Griffin, whom the team signed back in late July. That signing pushed the Jazz to be the 15th NBA team to utilize both of their two-way contracts.

At the time of that initial signing, I noted that Wolters could arguably be the best player to sign a two-way deal. Although there are a handful of players on those kind of contracts that have played more NBA games, I noted that he stands as the only prospect that has shined in both the Association and Euroleague. Was he a star in either venue? Nah, but he was still able to be a pretty reliable scoring weapon whether he was with the Milwaukee Bucks or KK Crvena Zvezda.

Wolters’ combination of experience and on-court consistency should allow him to be a significant asset to the Jazz organization. That’s true even if he starts the season with the SLC Stars as there’s always a strong possibility that he can get moved up to the big league club. While that’s technically true for all players on two-way deals, its especially evident for Wolters as there really isn’t a lot that separates him skill-wise from current Jazz backup guard Raul Neto. If Wolters starts the G League season on a hot start while Neto struggles then the Jazz might be forced to call him up from the Stars.

On the other hand, the Jazz will also have Griffin under a two-way deal. Although its less likely for him to make the big league club, due to the Jazz already having a wide array of talented forwards, that doesn’t mean that he won’t be a valuable asset for the team. While not having the same level of experience as Wolters, Griffin still offers his own set of skills that makes him such a unique player.

Standing at 6’8 and 205 pounds with a 7’1 wingspan, Griffin is most known for his athleticism and incredible dunking ability. That singular skill has impressed basketball fans no matter if he’s playing for the Texas Legends, Hapoel Galil Gilboa or the Jazz Summer League squad. Although that’s been enough to impressed basketball fans worldwide, Griffin can still shine even when he isn’t throwing down impressive dunks.

Aside from that singular trait, Griffin has also shined as an on-ball driver where he’s able to utilize pretty solid dribble moves for a 6’8 forward which includes a pretty spin and some side-steps. Looking away from the paint, Griffin has shined as a pretty solid perimeter shooter as he shot 37% from beyond the arc on 5.4 attempts per game during his 2014-15 stint with the Texas Legends.

On the other end of the court, Griffin just stands as an outstanding player that really knows how to use his athleticism for good. During that stint with the Texas Legends, Griffin regularly surprised opposing teams by making chase down blocks at the rim.

Coinciding with that, he does a great job of knowing when to work the passing lanes. Those two traits pushed him to average 1.3 steals and 2.4 blocks in 35 minutes per game, which was good enough for him to be named to the All-Defensive 2nd team during the 2014-15 season.

Griffin’s flashy and well-rounded game is the main reason why he stands alongside Wolters as a great pickup from the Jazz. Why not having the kind of NBA experience as his two-way counterpart, Griffin’s skill set just fits perfectly in the current iteration of the Association. Griffin is an extremely athletic 6’8 forward with a strong outside touch and solid on-ball ability that can also make huge players. Usually, NBA teams are willing to dole out ten’s of millions for players that follow that description. However, the Jazz were able to grab him with a two-way deal that will allow him to hopefully wreak havoc in the G League while being ready to go if the big league club needs him.

Among the fifteen NBA squads that have already filled their two-way slots, I think the Jazz have done the best job. It’s just extremely impressive to watch this organization be acquire two players that have shined in solid competition, whether its Wolters in Euroleague/NBA or Griffin’s prior stint in the G League. Although there have been teams that have acquired experienced talent, whether its Philadelphia’s James McAdoo or Orlando’s Adreian Payne, they currently stand as singular two-way prospects.

Meanwhile, both Griffin and Wolters stand as players could realistically be asked to play significant minutes at the NBA level. Honestly, there’s a strong possibility that neither of the two players could get called up this season, as the Jazz stand as a playoff hopeful in a strong Western Conference. However, just the idea of having two talented veterans on your G League affiliate that are always prepared to get called up is a solid asset to have.

In conclusion, it was extremely smart for the the Jazz to sign both Eric Griffin and Nate Wolters to two-way deals. That’s due to how both players stand as talented and experienced players that have produced against solid competition, whether they were playing in the United States or not. Although it’s likely that they’ll spend most of the upcoming season in the NBA G League with the Salt Lake City Stars, its still great to have either member of that duo ready to go to play with the big league club. Having those players as backup options is something that could really be beneficial over the course of an 82 game season.

Those reasons are why I think the Jazz signing both Wolters and Griffin to two-way deals was perfect move for that organization.