AJ Griffin is a young and highly talented prospect. He played his freshman year at Duke and was very successful as a role player, although he showed much ability to rise to a higher role. He’s projected as a lottery pick in the upcoming draft, though his exact placement is up in the air. It was predicted to be used as early as the 6th pick and as late as the 12th pick on major mock draft sites. The big question about Griffin remains. Will he be a role player in the NBA or does he have a shot at stardom?
Height: 6 feet 6 inches
Weight: 222 pounds
Per game: 10.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.6 blocks
Per 40 minutes: 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.9 blocks
Shooting splits: 49.3% FG, 44.7% 3P, 79.2% FT
Extended Stats: 63% TS, .180 WS/48, 8.1 BPM
AJ Griffin is a pure shooter. He’s possibly the best shot in this draft. Despite an unconventionally wide shot stance, he is an elite catch-and-shoot player, which was primarily his role at Duke. He’s adept at playing off the ball and spotting for threes, which accounts for a fantastic 45.7% of his catch-and-shoot three-pointers. He is adept at shooting down moves, in transition, against tight defenses, and even at long range. Being such a prolific shooter is a skill that easily translates to the NBA game.
AJ Griffin showed what makes him special on offense and a likely top 10 pick, flashing his elite shooting skills inside and outside the arc and impressively going downhill several times. Finished the win against Arkansas with 18 points and helped Duke return to the Final Four. pic.twitter.com/S1RjoA8CN8
— Jonathan Giveny (@DraftExpress) March 27, 2022
While his off-ball game stands out, NBA teams have also noticed Griffin’s skill with the ball in his hands. Griffin is a strong, aggressive driver who is not afraid of contact. While not an elite vertical jumper, he still maintains an impressive size, length, strength, and agility that allow him to effectively reach the edge if he so desires. His grip has shown strong flashes but hasn’t seen much use in college. Griffin’s dribble shot also showed potential. While he didn’t take many self-created jumpers, he did make an impressive 45.3% of his dribbling jumpers. This is the area of his game that many NBA teams will analyze in depth. If he can make the leap from basically just a spot-up shooter to a self-created scorer, he could be an offensive star.
It’s not often that you see 18-year-old players built like Griffin. His physique is strong and physical. Even rarer is a young player who knows how to use this strength. Driving to the basket, Griffin often initiates contact and can finish at a very efficient speed even when fouled. His physical drives look almost like Jimmy Butler. His strength is also very evident in his low post defense. It really digs in and creates a wall that is very difficult for offensive players to penetrate. The post is his best defensive area.
Most of Griffin’s disadvantages are on defense. Despite being a strong full-back, he struggles in many other aspects of defence. He tends to play too stiff, too slow and too physical. He gets into trouble too often for his position and has a hard time staying in front of faster players. His defensive awareness can also use work as he can struggle to navigate off-ball defense.
Griffin isn’t a great playmaker for his teammates, although he has shown some flash. At the moment, he’s primarily a goalscorer on offense.
Suitable for jazz
Any NBA team can use shooters. Griffin’s bottom is probably still a viable roleplayer. His ceiling is that of a star player and top scorer. Granted, that’s not really what the Jazz is looking for unless it’s completely rebuilt. If Utah buys into the draft lottery, they can prioritize better defensemen over AJ Griffin’s offensive potential.
How did the Utah Jazz get him?
This would require massive trading. There are rumors of many NBA teams with lottery picks looking for veterans, so never say never. Washington’s tenth pick could be on the table and they have been rumored to be interested in Mike Conley. Portland’s 7th pick appears to be available for win-now players. If the Jazz loved Griffin, they could probably strike a deal that could bring him here.
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