If there’s one thing we learned about AJ Griffin during his rookie season, it’s that he can shoot the lights out.
On draft day, it felt as if Griffin fell in the Hawks lap after he was selected with the 16th pick. Griffin was a young and raw prospect coming out of Duke, but one thing for certain was that he was a good three-point shooter.
With the Hawks and then coach Nate McMillan going with the philosophy of only playing experienced and established players, it was a chance that Griffin wasn't going to see a lot of time on the court this season, but the opposite happened. It's hard to keep talent on the sidelines if they can contribute.
Griffin only averaged 8.9 points, but he shot 46% from the field, 39% from three, and 89% from the free-throw line, which almost put him in the 40-50-90 club as just a 19-year-old rookie. Something the Hawks needed desperately with their lack of shooting throughout the season was somebody that can come in and knock down shots, and that's what Griffin did. The Hawks put Griffin in good situations to get open shots, and his movement off the ball helped in that area as well.
Not only did Griffin show his ability to hit threes, but he has the elusiveness and patience to get in the paint for a nice pump shot that seemed automatic at times.
AJ Griffin having himself a HALF pic.twitter.com/HWJmVfFY0B— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) March 19, 2023
The best part about Griffin's season was the game-winners he won. The first one was in overtime against the Toronto Raptors, where Trae Young raced down the court and threw an alley-oop to Griffin.
The other one came against the Chicago Bulls from an alley-oop pass once again but as an out of bounds play. Griffin caught the ball and threw it up for the win in overtime.
On defense, Griffin still has some things to improve on, which is why he didn't see any minutes in the playoffs against the Boston Celtics. Though his shooting may have been a plus, the Celtics were a team that could spread you out and makes you work on the other side of the floor.
Griffin should see more minutes next season, but with the Hawks extending Bogdan Bogdanovic, it will be interesting to see where Griffin fits into the lineup. Quin Snyder is all about getting shots up from three, and with that being Griffin’s bread and butter, it’s hard not to see him being a big part of the team's future. As Griffin continues to develop on both sides of the floor, there could one day be a path where he potentially starts next to Young.