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2022 NBA Draft Coverage: AJ Griffin

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - First Round - Greenville Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

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 plenty of capability to take on a higher role. He’s projected as a lottery pick in the upcoming draft, although his exact placement is very up in the air. He’s been projected to go 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 chance at stardom?

Stats

Age: 18

Height: 6’6”

Wingspan: 7’0”

Weight: 222 lbs

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

Advanced Stats: 63% TS, .180 WS/48, 8.1 BPM

Strengths

AJ Griffin is a pure shooter. He may be the best shooter in this draft. Despite an unconventionally wide shooting stance, he is an elite catch-and-shoot player which was mostly his role at Duke. He is skilled at playing off-ball and spotting up for three making a fantastic 45.7% of his catch-and-shoot threes. He is adept at shooting off movement, in transition, against tight defense, and even from deep range. Being such a prolific shooter is a skill that is easily translatable to the NBA game.

While his off-ball game clearly stands out, NBA teams have also noticed Griffin’s skill with the ball in his hands. Griffin is a strong, aggressive driver, who is unafraid of contact. While he’s not an elite vertical leaper, he still maintains impressive size, length, strength, and agility, which allow him to get to the rim effectively when he chooses to. His handle has shown strong flashes but wasn’t deployed a ton in college. Griffin’s shooting off the dribble also showed potential. While he didn’t take a ton of self-created jumpers, he made an impressive 45.3% of his dribble jumpers. This is the area of his game that many NBA teams will be analyzing deeply. If he can make the leap from essentially just a spot-up shooter to a self-creating scorer, he could be an offensive star.

It’s not often that you see 18-year-old players who are built like Griffin. His frame is strong and physical. Even more rare is a young player who knows how to use that kind of strength. When he drives to the basket, Griffin often initiates contact and is able to finish at a very efficient rate, even when getting fouled. His physical drives almost look like Jimmy Butler. His strength is also very evident in his low post defense. He really digs in and forms a wall that’s very hard for offensive players to push through. The post is his best area on defense.

Weaknesses

Most of Griffin’s downsides are on defense. Despite being a strong post defender, he struggles in many other aspects of defense. He has tendencies to play too stiff, too slow, and too physical. He gets in foul trouble too often for his position and has a hard time staying in front of quicker players. His defensive awareness can also use work, as he can have a hard time navigating off-ball defense.

Griffin isn’t much of a playmaker for his teammates, although he’s shown some flashes. For now, he’s primarily a scorer on offense.

Jazz fit

Every NBA team can use shooters. Griffin’s floor is likely still a serviceable role player. His ceiling is that of a star player and primary scorer. Admittedly, that’s not really what the Jazz might be looking for unless they go into a full rebuild. If Utah buys their way into the draft lottery, they may prioritize better defenders over the offensive potential of AJ Griffin.

How could the Utah Jazz get him?

This would take a massive trade. There are rumors out there about many NBA teams with lottery picks who are looking for veterans though, so never say never. Washington’s 10th pick may be on the table, and they’ve been rumored to have interest in Mike Conley. Portland’s 7th pick seems to be available for win-now players. If the Jazz loved Griffin, they could likely swing a trade that could land him here.


Stats via sports-reference.com