DALLAS — He seemingly flew in out of nowhere. But, when the highflying Eric Griffin finally landed, he had already made his presence felt last month with the Dallas Mavericks’ summer-league squad.
Introducing himself to the basketball world with a posterizing dunk over former Maverick Shane Larkin to tip off the Las Vegas Summer League, Griffin launched himself into consideration to fill a roster spot for the team this upcoming season. He then left Las Vegas on a high note following his best all-around game shortly after signing a non-guaranteed contract with the Mavs on July 18, scoring 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting, adding three rebounds and three blocked shots to boot as Dallas routed Phoenix with a blowout 88-62 win.
Now, Griffin will try to build on his impressive summer, looking to earn a spot on the Mavericks’ regular-season roster when training camp commences on Sept. 30.
“That brought a big smile to my face,” Griffin said while grinning from ear to ear after signing with the Mavs. “My mom was happy more than anything. She knows where I came from and how I started, and it’s a big day for me.”
The 6-foot-8, 194-pounder averaged 11.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 1.2 steals in 20.8 minutes of work, coming off the bench in four of the Mavs’ five summer-league games. He also continuously showcased a flair for athletic and acrobatic finishes, tallying up a multitude of highlight reel dunks.
But now Griffin is out to prove that he’s more than just a future Slam Dunk contestant, hoping to display all of his attributes this fall.
“You know, I’m not just a high flyer,” Griffin said. “I can defend well, I can block (shots) and get steals. I’m just really trying to show my ability and what I can do.”
Starring at Campbell University while playing 31 games his senior season, Griffin averaged 15.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.4 blocks for the Fighting Camels and was named to the All-Big South Conference First Team and NABC District 3 First Team. But, after seeing limited time with the Miami Heat in the preseason a year ago before spending all of last season playing internationally with Gauros de Lara in Venezuela and Leones de Ponce in Puerto Rico, Griffin knows that he still has a lot to prove in order to impress the Mavs’ brass while continuing his NBA dream.
Still, after the Mavs instilled confidence in the 24-year-old this summer, Griffin says that the sky is the limit for him this season and he’s not ready to come down off of Cloud Nine.
“I felt better in taking my shots,” Griffin said after his dream of playing in the league hit speed bumps previously. “The last couple of years I wasn’t comfortable shooting, and the Mavs just told me to just go out there and shoot, space the floor and let it come to you. And that’s what I did. … I’m just really happy to be here. I’m finally here. It’s definitely not over. I still have to prove myself to the team and the organization.”