2023-24 Atlanta Hawks player preview: AJ Griffin

AJ Griffin, a talented 19-year-old, had an impressive rookie season in the NBA. He averaged 8.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.0 assists, with a shooting percentage of 46.5% from the field and 39% from three. Playing primarily as a shooting guard and small forward, Griffin logged close to 20 minutes per game for the Hawks and started in twelve contests. Despite not making either of the All-Rookie teams, he received 26 points in the voting.

Although there are still some questions surrounding AJ Griffin’s game, he is expected to play a crucial role in the Hawks’ rotation this year. His efficient shooting is his primary skill, which the Hawks heavily rely on in their second unit, especially considering Bogdan Bogdanovic’s injury history. However, Griffin still needs to work on certain aspects of his game to solidify his role in the rotation.

Defensively, Griffin is currently average. Standing at 6’6″, he possesses the build to defend multiple positions, but he lacks some of the necessary size to stop opponents in their tracks. The coaching staff often assigned him to guard players in the corners, limiting his opportunities for on-ball defense. However, Griffin demonstrates decent instincts as an off-ball defender, and with added weight, he could further develop his defensive skills. While there isn’t anything glaringly wrong in his defensive performance, there is room for improvement.

Offensively, Griffin excels in shooting. He navigates screens effectively, showcasing this skill as a rookie. He is particularly strong as a catch-and-shoot player, but he has yet to fully demonstrate his shooting off the dribble, although there have been glimpses of potential. If he can expand his game and become more of a scoring threat inside the three-point arc, he can truly flourish on the offensive end.

In my opinion, AJ Griffin possesses all the necessary tools to make a significant contribution to the Hawks’ team this year. He is likely to be the 8th man on the roster, coming off the bench behind Bogdanovic and either Jalen Johnson or Saddiq Bey. However, he has the potential to be a dynamic scorer for the second unit. If he can improve his defense and become more effective at defending opponents, it would open up more lineup possibilities for the Hawks in the second unit.

Hawks fans have high expectations for Griffin after his impressive rookie season. He complements players like Trae Young and Dejounte Murray well, providing a fantastic spot-up shooting option when they drive to the rim. Offensively, his potential is tantalizing, especially if he can develop his scoring ability inside the three-point line. The lineup consisting of Griffin, Johnson, and Okongwu in the second unit promises exciting basketball, as they have the ability to complement each other effectively. Given the right matchups and considering potential injuries, it is highly likely that this 3-man lineup will accumulate significant minutes by the end of the season. Hawks fans are hoping for a career full of highlight plays like the one showcased in the tweet below.


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