Griffin showed his versatility for all 30 minutes he was on the court, putting the ball on the floor, hitting shots inside the paint and out and even extending his range all the way to three-point land.
While most summer league games are played in front of a laid-back, half-interested crowd, you could tell that this was the main event that fans had anticipated for weeks. Super-fan Clipper Darrell was in attendance, of course, leading the crowd in cheers, as was commissioner David Stern.
Assistant coach Kim Hughes is handling the head coaching duties during summer league, but Mike Dunleavy was in attendance, watching from courtside seats on the opposite end of the floor of the Clippers bench. After the game, Dunleavy was effusive with praise, especially regarding Griffin's outside shooting. The team has worked with Griffin to add more arc to his shot, as well as releasing the ball at the top of his jump instead of on the way down.
"He did everything that we expected him to do," Dunleavy said. "He's been working like crazy on his outside shot. It's really been improving for us. He hit a three earlier tonight, yesterday in practice he hit a 20-footer, then a three-pointer to end one of the games. He made six jumpers of over 20 feet yesterday in practice. We knew he could rebound and handle the ball and pass, and really play hard, but he's improving really quickly for us."
As excited as Dunleavy was, he was hardly surprised. "For a guy like him, it's hard to have a bad game because he plays so hard and he does so many things. He's very unselfish, he's going to draw a lot of attention, when he did tonight, he made the plays to the right people at the right time and got them easy scores. I just love the way he plays."
Dunleavy added that he wants Griffin to have enough confidence in his shot to never pass up an open look. "He hesitated one time in practice yesterday," Dunleavy said. "I stopped practice and I said, 'You can't turn down 17 footers that are open, you're showing the ability to make them, it'll never be questioned. When you're open, shoot the ball, don't think anything of it, be aggressive,' and that's the way we want to see him play."
Outside the Clippers' locker room, in a cramped hallway made smaller by dozens of reporters and several television cameras, Griffin was his usual low-key self. "It was the first time I played a game in about three months or so," he said. "It's great to get back out there and shake the rust off."
As it happens, there wasn't much rust to shake off -- Griffin hit his first eight shots, getting into a rhythm early that carried him the rest of the game. "That was great. That's something that I wanted to do, that first layup that I had, I really wanted to hit my first layup," he said. "Make that layup and take the edge off a little bit. I kind of settled down on my jumpers."
Although he's primarily known for his play in the post, Griffin admitted that he hopes to use his newly refined jumper more often. "I would like to shoot a little more from the perimeter. It's something that I've been working on, something that I know I can do, so I just want to get repetitions in games."
As excited as everyone was, Griffin acknowledged that there's still work for him to do. He graded his debut a "B-minus," pointing to some defensive lapses he hopes to correct.
"We won, that's great, but I did some things wrong defensively," he said. "That's the hardest part for me is picking on different things. And also just remembering plays. It hasn't been a problem in the past, but so much was kind of thrown at me over the past three days that it kind of gets jumbled up and then I messed up a few times."
New teammate Marcus Camby was in attendance, and he liked what he saw. "Very impressed," he said. "Very impressive debut. I thought he played extremely well and showed what he can do out there, shows how very versatile out there he is on the court. I definitely see him having a bright future."
With Chris Kaman, Camby and Griffin, the Clippers have a crowded frontcourt, even after the departure of Zach Randolph, who's expected to be officially traded to the Grizzlies later this week. Then again, when you consider the big lineups used by many of the top contenders in the West, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
"The way we are now, I feel like we have a team that can compete in the West," said Camby. "Last year was an abysmal season by everybody, but we all got a lot of heart and a lot of confidence that we can bounce back and have a terrific season."
Making the jump from 19 wins to the playoffs is a tall order, but if his first game as a pro is any indication, having a talent like Griffin gives the Clippers a solid foundation to build upon.