Home Sports A.J. Griffin is prepared for NBA sophomore leap, whether or not Hawks commerce him or not

A.J. Griffin is prepared for NBA sophomore leap, whether or not Hawks commerce him or not

A.J. Griffin is prepared for NBA sophomore leap, whether or not Hawks commerce him or not


The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Tuesday morning that the Atlanta Hawks stay the foremost suitor for the Toronto Raptors’ ahead Pascal Siakam, providing a package deal constructed upon De’Andre Hunter, AJ Griffin and draft capital.

Siakam is excellent. He’s a two-time All-Star and All-NBA honoree who’s confirmed to contribute to profitable on the highest stage and but to show 30. The Hawks would completely be a greater workforce with him round. Nonetheless, they’d additionally not be the lone winner of a commerce comprised of these aforementioned elements. Griffin can be fairly the get and is primed for a affluent profession, no matter whether or not he’s donning Toronto or Atlanta pink.

Final 12 months, he averaged 8.9 factors (57.7 p.c true capturing), 2.1 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 19.5 minutes per evening. He shot 53.6 p.c on two-pointers, 39 p.c past the arc and 89.4 p.c on the charity stripe. Although he by no means appeared to actually crack head coach Quin Snyder’s inside circle as soon as Snyder assumed the reins in late February — seeing a dip in taking part in time and manufacturing, and recording zero playoff minutes — Griffin ought to issue prominently into the Hawks’ interim and long-term plans. That rings much more true within the fast future if he expands upon his encouraging first season and might solidify himself as a mainstay of the rotation.

Lengthy-range capturing sits on the core of his intrigue. He buried 44.7 p.c of his exterior appears to be like at Duke, was a extremely regarded shooter all through youth circuits and has continued ripping by way of the nets within the NBA. Hammering house this worth is his multifaceted arsenal off the catch. Many younger gamers and credible shooters labor by way of discerning reads and selections in opposition to closeouts. The velocity of the NBA requires an assimilation interval. It’s why “the sport slowed down” truism exists and is echoed throughout the league when gamers take leaps. Margins are smaller and extra fleeting than any time earlier than, and once-functional athletic benefits often dissipate.

At 19 years outdated, Griffin is already proficient beating closeouts and coverages in a plethora of how; how he manipulates and punishes them conveys the knowledge and expertise of an completed veteran. Go beneath the decide, path behind or get well tardily and he’ll splash in a 3, comfy recognizing up and firing on the transfer. His footwork off of screens amplifies his fluid, one-motion launch. Play excessive of screens or skirt him off the arc and he operates with a stage of methodical management that lets him dictate the tempo. He regularly involves a bounce cease within the paint, although is equally adept taking part in off of 1 foot, if wanted.

The floater is his go-to weapon downhill (1.14 factors per possession on runners in 2022-23, 92nd percentile), however he additionally wields an eclectic palette of pivots, fakes and off-balance tips to transform contained in the paint. His shot faux is rapidly rivaling the league’s premier off-ball shooters and he’s unbothered by most contests, able to altering his supply to account for defenders’ whereabouts. Small areas don’t overwhelm him, and he punctually anticipates stunts earlier than they encroach upon his intentions.

One of many greatest present limitations for Griffin is his lack of explosion (although I assumed he regarded zippier and extra versatile on the finish of the season). He compensates by profitable on the margins together with his footwork, economical routes round screens and snappy reads when the ball travels his approach. Atlanta deployed him off of pindowns, dribble handoffs, slide screens and lots of different off-ball actions final season, and he constantly delivered in a wide range of manners. He ought to have little bother producing gaudy, multifaceted scoring quantity as he progresses into his prime.

Griffin doesn’t should be the point of interest of a possession to spur probabilities both. That’s an important a part of what renders him such a dynamic, tantalizing off-ball scorer. Whether or not it’s lifting on the weakside when his man rotates, relocating to burn a wandering eye or delicate shifts to open up an angle to shoot or drive, he made a behavior of parlaying slight pockets of house into routine scoring alternatives.

Enjoying alongside a premier benefit creator in Trae Younger, Griffin’s scoring profile tasks as a harmonic complement. Younger is an on-ball dynamo who’s nonetheless making an attempt to ascertain a constant off-ball presence. Griffin is an off-ball dynamo whose skill-set elevates the offense with out reorienting Younger right into a suboptimal position. Loads of defenses load strong-side assist to direct offense away from Younger, and it’s an more and more common tactic on a league-wide scale, too. Granting Griffin room to rock off the catch whereas his star level guard occupies consideration is a boon for the Hawks and might exploit this evolving defensive scheme (so long as it stays prevalent).

He and Younger collaborated on some actions final season, particularly slide screens, however there’s actually extra depths to discover. Griffin’s off-ball gravity and Younger’s on-ball gravity stress defenses. Younger’s dribble penetration is amongst his foremost traits. Griffin’s off-ball scoring is amongst his foremost traits. There’s no cause units leveraging these skills collectively shouldn’t be a precedence for a workforce that tasks to relaxation its playoff aspirations totally on a potent, various offense.

After ending thirtieth in three-point charge a 12 months in the past, Atlanta may additionally profit from extra long-range quantity to offset Younger and Dejounte Murray’s penchant for deep twos (78th and one centesimal percentile, respectively, in midrange pictures exterior the paint). Griffin meets that standards. He’s a decisive, worthwhile launch valve from deep.

When Nate McMillan was the lead man final season, the offense typically stagnated into “your flip, my flip” pick-and-roll variations between Younger and Murray. Snyder’s schemes are rather more egalitarian and motion-heavy. If Griffin is a outstanding member of the rotation, I’m curious to what diploma, if any, his second-side creation is featured. It was a degree of optimism all through his rookie marketing campaign and will distinguish him from being pigeonholed into off-ball scoring utilization.

His 1.13 PPP off the dribble ranked within the 91st percentile, per Synergy, and he yielded an efficient discipline aim proportion of 53.1 on 227 self-created discipline aim makes an attempt (3.2 factors above league common), in line with PBPStats. This information shouldn’t be interpreted as a case for Griffin’s main initiator potential. Jumpers off the dribble arrive in all totally different contexts, simply as self-created pictures do. However it may be interpreted as proof of a chief by which he’s offering dependable supplementary creation subsequent to a top-tier offensive engine.

He makes use of his deal with to navigate cramped quarters and maneuver the place he intends, whereas his footwork, intermediate contact and sagacious cadence punctuate these scoring pursuits. The boldness and manufacturing he touted off the dribble, even on slowly growing touches, as a rookie was notable.

The important thing steps forward offensively for Griffin are discovering simpler pictures and evolving as a playmaker. Solely 14 p.c of his appears to be like occurred on the rim (14th percentile) and he tried 47 free throws all season (.088 free-throw charge). His true capturing proportion was 0.4 factors under the NBA common, regardless of rating within the eighty fifth and 63rd percentiles from midrange and three-point vary.

Swapping a few of these floaters for daring, profitable makes an attempt on the rim may assist, although I perceive the security web and rhythm of them. Floaters, nevertheless, are a notoriously difficult shot kind to subsist on. A better willingness to wander all the way in which to the cup may increase his two-point and free throw numbers for a holistic scoring effectivity spike.

In response to Sports activities Information Options, his 56.1 efficient discipline aim proportion was six factors larger than anticipated, primarily based on shot high quality, which ranked within the ninetieth percentile and thirty sixth total amongst 371 eligible gamers. That’s each a testomony to his shot-making prowess and an space to watch relating to his shot distribution transferring ahead.

Elevating his scoring quantity can be simplified with passing progress. He authored some flashes, however tended to slowly, if in any respect, course of openings and struggled executing the deliveries he did see. Because the season wore on, groups started really recognizing his capturing expertise and guarded him accordingly. Griffin simply needs to be somebody who is aware of when too many eyeballs are fixated on him and might exploit that respect, along with some customary reads accompanying his excellent utilization, a la pocket passes, inside laydowns, and empty nook lobs.

These are all attainable reads and ones he sporadically showcased in 2022-23. A basis exists. Now, it’s about usually contemplating each choices when capturing and passing can be found to him slightly than solely passing.

Amongst Griffin, Onyeka Okongwu and Jalen Johnson, the Hawks roster a trio of connective younger gamers who may assist elevate the ceiling of their Younger-Murray core. Griffin is perhaps probably the most attractive of the bunch. He’s a gnarly good shooter and versatile, efficient off-ball scorer who may change into a viable ancillary creator down the road.

Atlanta may pivot to money in on the attract of this description and maximize its current day surroundings. Such a risk shouldn’t cease Griffin from actualizing this potential, although, and wherever he blossoms will probably be immensely proud of all he supplies. His rookie 12 months was an illuminative glimpse into what that blossoming might resemble — and it’s depraved good.



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