Developing forward with an impressive combination of length and strength who is still evolving in many ways after missing a lot of action at the prep level but had one of the most efficient spot-up shooting seasons in recent college basketball history.
About A.J. Griffin
Griffin is a dangerous off-the-ball scoring threat with an NBA-ready frame. He emerged as one of the most efficient offensive role players in the country for a Duke team that went to the Final Four while flashing some potential to create his own shot as well. The son of NBA veteran and Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin (and brother of Alan Griffin, a first-round pick in the 2021 NBA G League Draft), the 18-year-old A.J. Griffin has strong family ties to the game. Emerging as one of the top prospects in the high school class of 2021 very early in his prep career, Griffin averaged 13.5 points per over 18.4 minutes per game on the USA team that featured Jabari Smith and Jalen Duren and took gold at the 2019 FIBA U16 Americas Championship.
Losing much of his final two years of high school to injuries and the pandemic, Griffin nonetheless capped his prep career at Archbishop Stepinac High School (N.Y.) with McDonald’s All-American honors and was widely considered one of the top 15 players in last fall’s incoming freshman class. Missing much of the preseason with a leg injury, the New York native got off to a slow start in his lone collegiate season. However, he soon turned the corner, establishing himself as one of the country’s most efficient offensive players en route to a spot on the ACC All-Rookie Team.
• Listed at 6-foot-6 with a 222-pound frame and a 7-foot wingspan, Griffin has excellent length and solid athleticism for a small forward. He also has the type of strong base that could allow him to eventually see some minutes at power forward.
• Playing primarily off the ball alongside Paolo Banchero, Wendell Moore and Trevor Keels, Griffin played a key role in Duke’s rise as one of last season’s most efficient offensive teams as a consistent, floor-spacing forward. Ranking among the most effective catch-and-shoot threats in the country, Griffin has an obvious role to play at the next level. His opportunistic scoring off the dribble and ability to make step-back jumpers with range add a degree of intrigue to his offensive skill set, even if his decision-making is still a work in progress.
• Possessing the tools to hold his own and potentially guard multiple positions long-term, Griffin remains early in his defensive development but improved some towards the end of last season.
• Finishing his freshman campaign ranked among the most efficient half court contributors in the country, Griffin was tremendous in a role that revolved around his biggest strength: his ability to make set shots. With almost half of his field goal attempts coming in spot-up situations, he averaged a remarkable 1.36 points per catch and shoot jump shot [97th percentile] as his accuracy with his feet set was historically good — let alone for an 18-year old freshman with limited game reps coming into the year.
• Shooting with great balance and extremely reliable mechanics, Griffin’s jumper translated off the dribble as well on limited attempts. Able to take what defenders gave him in the midrange, use turnarounds to get his shot off in mid-post and make step back jumpers with range, he averaged an impressive 1.11 points per dribble jump shot [97th percentile].
• More strong than particularly explosive or crafty as a ball handler and finisher, Griffin is still maturing as a shot-creator and passer.
• With an impressive combination of length and strength, Griffin has a solid base of tools to work with defensively. Last season, he was still picking up the nuances of guarding on and off the ball.
• Flashing the ability to be a factor on the wings with his length and in the post with his low center of gravity, Griffin has some nice moments towards the end of last season and possesses the dimensions to provide some defensive versatility.
— Profile by Synergy Sports