Here is the sum total of what I knew about Eric Griffin before Thursday night:
• The Miami Heat signed him last month for training camp after he played for their Summer League team;
• He did not play bass in Murderdolls.
After Thursday's preseason matchup with the apparently-bitter-rival Brooklyn Nets, though, I now have a new piece of information to add to my Eric Griffin dossier — he is, it seems, susceptible to pump fakes.
Yes, Nets rookie Mason Plumlee is crouching a bit here; still, Mason Plumlee is 7 feet tall, so jumping over him means you are doing quite a lot of jumping indeed. And while it's never good to bite on a pump fake, let alone this hard, I guess if you're going to fall for it, you might as well do so in a way that so deeply unnerves the opposition that your teammates have an opportunity to rotate over and take away an easy layup. So, in summation, good job, I guess, Eric Griffin.
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Also, let's all say a small, quiet "thank you" to the deity of our choosing that Plumlee did not raise his head a split-second sooner. I'm sure future generations of the Griffin clan appreciate continuing to have the opportunity to exist.
Griffin finished with five points and three rebounds in 12 minutes of run for the Heat in their 86-62 loss to the Nets in Brooklyn; while he made two of his three field-goal attempts, he shot an unsightly 1 of 6 from the charity stripe, which isn't the sort of thing that tends to endear you to the coaching staff come cut-down time. (Unless, of course, you're a monstrous talent in other areas, like Shaquille O'Neal, Dwight Howard, Ben Wallace or Andre Drummond.) He's appeared in all five of Miami's preseason contests thus far, but hasn't made a major impression, averaging just two points and 1.4 rebounds in 7.6 minutes per game. Even if he manages to show out in his remaining preseason appearances, though, it's unlikely that Griffin will be able to play himself into a roster spot with the two-time-defending champs.
That's not a slight on his ability — the 6-foot-8 Orlando, Fla., native was an All-Big South selection at Campbell University in North Carolina, averaging 14.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and a combined 3.5 blocks/steals per game in two collegiate seasons. After leaving school, he caught on with the Los Angeles Lakers' Summer League squad last year before heading overseas to spend the season with Aurora Jesi of Italy's Legadue (or Second League). But Miami brought back 12 members of last year's title team, and while veteran wing shooter Mike Miller was amnestied before joining the Memphis Grizzlies, the Heat later added oft-injured center Greg Oden, bringing the total of guaranteed roster slots to 13.
The maximum number of players an NBA team can carry is 15, but they don't have to; many front offices like to leave a slot open to afford roster flexibility in case personnel changes are needed later in the season. That puts Griffin the running for two or, more likely, one spot alongside the likes of former No. 2 pick Michael Beasley, 11-year pro Roger Mason Jr. and D-League standout and late-season Heat addition Jarvis Varnado, among others; his odds, in other words, are not good, and he knows it.
"They already know what I can do," Griffin recently told Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. "It's on me to just show them why I belong here."
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Well, now more of us know what young Mr. Griffin can do. Best of luck to him as he attempts to continue to rise.
And now, since you might want to watch more of Eric Griffin getting up, here he is banging on aforementioned Detroit Pistons center Drummond:
And here he is back in his days with the Campbell U. Fighting Camels, dropping the hammer on Lawrence Smith of North Carolina A&T:
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