The Portland Trail Blazers’ forgettable 2021-22 season is in the books and it is time to turn our attention to the 2022 NBA Draft. Unlike recent years, Portland has multiple picks in this year’s process. After finishing the regular season with a 27-55 record, the Blazers enter the lottery draw with the sixth-best odds in the NBA. Buoyed by those odds, the Blazers are poised to exit the draft with the rights to a marquee prospect.
Duke forward AJ Griffin steps into the spotlight in today’s profile. During his lone year at Duke, Griffin established himself as one of the best shooters in the country.
- Height: 6’6”
- WT: 220
- Wingspan: 7’0”
- Shooting Hand: Right
- Position: SF
- Age: 18
- Projected draft range: 6-10
- PTS: 10.4 | Per 40: 17.3
- REB: 3.9 | Per 40: 6.5
- AST: 1.0 | Per 40: 1.6
- FG%: 49.3
- 3P%: 44.7
- FT%: 79.2
Griffin boasts a shooting profile that is ideal for the modern NBA. He is an efficient shooter in both catch-and-shoot situations and pull-up opportunities. Starting with his slightly unorthodox base, Griffin’s attempts are launched from a wide base. From there, he quickly snaps into a shooting motion that features a gorgeous release. His touch on three-point attempts is truly special. Griffin also proved that is comfortable attempting shots from NBA three-point distance during his time in college.
Along with his favorable mechanics, Griffin has an excellent understanding of space on the perimeter. He is constantly moving into position to make passes easier for his teammates. His movements routinely keep opposing defenses stretched thin.
Inside the arc, Griffin is a compact and powerful athlete. He gets from one point to another with purpose. Even when facing larger opponents, Griffin stays on course. Once he reaches the paint, he finishes comfortably through contact. Griffin converted a solid 72.1 percent of his attempts at the rim (per CBB Analytics).
Defensively, Griffin has the physical tools to guard multiple positions. His wingspan allows him to corral players on the perimeter. In the post, Griffin has an excellent anchor. He rarely concedes space on the block to larger players.
Griffin’s father, Adrian, played in the NBA for 10 seasons.
Inside the arc, Griffin too often settles for contested shots. His shot selection issues are compounded by his straight-line dribbling style. Griffin’s offense inside the arc is predictable at times, which leads to tough shots and turnovers.
Defensively, Griffin gets caught out of position in off-ball situations. He has a tendency of remaining flat footed when backdoor cuts unfold in his vicinity. Griffin also struggles to navigate screens when multiple actions occur. In one-on-one situations, he relies on his wingspan. That often leads to foul trouble.
Outside of his on-court tendencies, Griffin has a noteworthy injury history. During his prep career, Griffin endured a set of knee and ankle injuries.
Griffin was a crucial contributor on a Duke team that finished with a 32-7 record. He supplied crucial floor spacing for the Blue Devils’ high-powered offense throughout the season. Before losing to North Carolina, Duke marched all the way to the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament.
Individually, Griffin earned a spot on the ACC All-Freshman team.
Griffin’s accurate shooting establishes a sturdy floor for his NBA upside. Offensively, Griffin is a plug-and-play option for multiple schemes. Physically, Griffin has all the tools to hold his own at the small forward spot. Thanks to his strong anchor in the post, he could earn minutes as a small-ball four in the future.
Due to his previous injury history, Griffin’s pre-draft medical evaluations are crucial. If teams are comfortable with what they see, he could rise up boards as draft night approaches.
Griffin’s three-point shooting at a position of need should pique the Blazers’ interest. Offensively, Griffin’s floor spacing and mistake-free style on the perimeter should translate to minutes early in his career. From a size standpoint, Griffin’s wingspan more than makes up for his height at the forward spots.
If the Blazers land close to where their lottery odds currently point, Griffin is a high-floor option. Even if he falls short of his ceiling, Griffin’s shooting will make him a valuable addition to multiple rotations for years to come. His medical history is noteworthy, but a closer look at that information in pre-draft evaluations should provide a clearer picture.