LAS VEGAS — If the purpose of summer league holds true — finding hidden talent and developing young players — forward Eric Griffin will find himself on an NBA roster next season.
The Utah Jazz have lost all four of their games in Las Vegas, but Griffin has consistently been one of the team’s lone bright spots.
After going unselected in the 2012 NBA draft, Griffin has bounced around the world playing professional basketball — from summer league appearances with the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers to teams in Italy, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Griffin, who’s under contract with Pallacanestro Cantù — a professional team in Italy — has an “NBA out” in his deal. If he were to get an offer from an NBA team, Griffin says he’d use it.
“I will absolutely use it,” Griffin said on Wednesday following Utah’s loss to Phoenix “If I get a contract, then I will use it — absolutely.”
His NBA options have been fairly limited — until this year.
Griffin has received interest from several teams around the league, including the Utah Jazz, a source told the Deseret News. Utah hasn't utilized its two-way contracts, which designates players to split time between NBA teams and their G-League (formerly known as the NBA Developmental League) affiliates.
Although his stats don’t necessarily scream “NBA talent” — Griffin’s averaged 7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4 blocks in Las Vegas — Utah’s coaching staff is pleased with the tenacity he plays with.
“First and foremost, (I’ve noticed) his intensity level and how hard he’s played consistently,” said Jazz assistant coach Zach Guthrie. “No matter the score, no matter who’s out there with him — he’s playing hard and he’s trying to play the right way. I’ve been impressed by his passing ability and ability to switch in pick-and-roll. He’s still got a few bad habits — reaching and gambling — but he’s making plays. We’ll try to clean and polish that. Griff’s been a positive influence on our team.”
With Donovan Mitchell out on Wednesday against the Suns, Griffin stood apart from the rest of his summer league counterparts.
Griffin scored 18 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked 4 shots — one of which, again, was sent to media row.
At 27, Griffin is one of the older players participating in summer league, but that doesn’t mean he’ll stop developing. Defense is something he’s excelled at, but also a part of his game he wants to improve.
“I haven’t fully (checked off all the boxes),” Griffin said. “I just want to help the team any way I can.”
In the mold of former Jazzman Trevor Booker, it’s hard not to notice Griffin on the floor. And finally, the ones that sign the checks — team executives — are beginning to have interest.
“I don’t have to worry about that,” said Griffin about his NBA future. “My game’s going to speak for itself. I just have to keep pushing and getting better every day.”