NBA Draft Lottery: Duke’s AJ Griffin could give Pistons power behind the arc

Shooters will always have a place in the NBA and Duke’s AJ Griffin has plenty of potential to be a threat from outside.

He entered Duke as a five-star prospect and had a slow start as he recovered from a preseason knee injury. Griffin stepped up to power the Blue Devils from long range after they lost several top shooters who departed to play professionally.

Despite that slow start, Griffin found his footing, making 71 of his 159 three-point attempts to help Duke make it to the Final Four.

Griffin is still young and will only be 19 when the NBA season tips off in October. So, though he may still have several skills that need development, his shooting provides enough upside that makes him an intriguing prospect. He also has some versatility on defense that teams will always benefit from.

He has the ability to guard multiple positions and his wingspan allows him to keep opponents along the perimeter. In the post, Griffin rarely gives up space on the block.

AJ GRIFFIN

  • Position: Forward
  • Height: 6-6
  • Weight: 222 pounds
  • Age: 18
  • Key stats: 10.4ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.0 apg, 49.3% FG, 44.7% 3FG

Scouts said Griffin has the prototypical size of an NBA wing and project that he will be a great shooter at the next level. Griffin shot nearly 45 percent from three onn4.8 attempts per game which prompted NBA scouts to call him a “prolific/dangerous shooter” with a “pure shooting stroke.” They added that Griffin has an excellent rotation on his shot and that he stays down and in position, which makes it easier for him to knock a jumper down off the catch.

On top of that, Griffin can also attack defenses from several levels and utilizes several different moves together to keep up that attack. So NBA teams can expect Griffin to keep attacking even if a defender cuts off his first look.

Griffin also shows awareness of his size and sometimes uses it to get to where he wants and create space to get his shot off. Scouts note that with his size, he’s able to keep the ball away from defenders when going to the rim and makes it tough to contest him in the paint if he has beaten his defender, even slightly.

He has also shown good athleticism, which has allowed him to finish strong at the rim. Plus he uses his seven-foot wingspan well defensively.

Despite that, scouts have noted that he doesn’t have the foot speed to blow by defenders, who try to contain him along the perimeter. His slow footwork also leaves him slow to react on defense which allows opponents time and space to cut behind him. Scouts also seemed unimpressed with his ballhandling skills and say that he has little tells when he is trying to get a rhythm, which makes him predictable to defenses.

But Griffin’s skills as a knockdown shooter make him an enticing prospect that the Pistons could highly benefit from. He won’t need to be the team’s primary offensive weapon but he has the ability to space the floor, which the Pistons could rely on. He can play the role of a spot-up shooter and develop into a three-and-D guy as he acclimates to NBA defenses. Scouts have noted that if he can adjust his game to better attack NBA-level defenders and keep them off-balance, he has the potential to become an All-Star.

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