AJ Griffin getting important Knicks curiosity

Sitting courtside, AJ Griffin could not assist himself. His thoughts his would wander, imagining himself on the NBA courtroom throwing down dunks and hitting lengthy leap photographs.

He was solely in third grade then, tagging alongside together with his father, Adrian, an NBA assistant coach.

“Going to the video games you see the behind the scenes stuff,” Griffin instructed The Put up in a telephone interview. “Simply attending to see it early made my dream come alive. Being surrounded by basketball as your entire childhood it is laborious to not fall in love with basketball.”

Quickly, that dream will grow to be a actuality, and it might occur near his Ossining, NY, dwelling. Griffin, a 6-foot-6 guard thought of top-of-the-line shooters within the draft, might fall to the Knicks at 11, and so they have proven a major quantity of curiosity in him. The Knicks introduced him in for a person exercise, attended his professional day in Los Angeles and have put plenty of time into vetting him, in response to sources. Moreover, his father his, now the lead assistant with the Raptors, beforehand labored with Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau with the Bulls.

Griffin is acquainted with a number of gamers on the workforce, particularly RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin. He is met Barrett a number of instances and performed youth basketball with Toppin, a Westchester native like Griffin.

“That might be fairly cool to play to your hometown,” Griffin stated. “I performed in MSG two instances final yr, and it is simply an expertise like no different.”

AJ Griffin
NBAE by way of Getty Pictures

Griffin is among the extra debated prospects who’ve been invited to the inexperienced room, a projected lottery choose who was as soon as thought of a lock to go within the high 10. Based on a number of scouts, there are questions on his consistency and athleticism regarding his harm historical past.

He had again points as a sophomore in highschool, dislocated his left knee the next yr and suffered a sprained proper knee previous to this season at Duke. He was a part-time starter for the Blue Devils this yr, averaging 10.4 factors and three.9 rebounds whereas capturing 44.7 p.c from 3-point vary.

“There’s some concern with the accidents,” one scout stated. “However he’s 6-6 with a chiseled body and he shot 45 p.c from 3.”

The counterpoint to the criticism is Griffin was on a loaded workforce that requested him to fill a specific position as a court-spacing marksman, Duke assistant coach Chris Carrawell stated. He had some monster video games: 27 factors in a rout of North Carolina, 21 in an ACC Match semifinal win over Miami, 18 within the Elite Eight in opposition to Arkansas. Griffin did not have a senior season of highschool resulting from COVID-19, and handled the early knee harm this yr that slowed his progress.

“Every little thing has its timing and also you simply proceed to work,” Griffin stated. “I have been seeing progress.”

He added: “I really feel like I can present far more [than I did in college].”

ESPN faculty basketball analyst and draft guru Fran Fraschilla did not see the identical athleticism from Griffin at Duke as he did in highschool, however attributed a part of that to the accidents, and sees an especially excessive ceiling for Griffin, who does not flip 19 till August.

Duke
AJ Griffin takes the ball robust to the basket for Duke.
Getty Pictures

“He undoubtedly has every little thing you’ll suppose you would wish for him to be an excellent NBA participant,” Fraschilla stated. “I simply suppose it’ll take a few years.”

Griffin has been across the sport his total life, and, because the youngest of three siblings, was pushed at a younger age. For years, he would lose to his older brother his, Alan, and sister, Aubrey. Additionally they performed Division I faculty basketball, Alan at Illinois and Syracuse and Aubrey presently at Connecticut. It pressured him to work tougher and instilled a aggressive spirit in him.

Griffin was considered one of many high prospects within the nation as a freshman at Archbishop Stepinac and was some of the coveted recruits nationally when he dedicated to Duke. He is gained at each stage, serving to Stepinac win a state championship as a freshman and the town title sport the next yr, contributing to Duke’s Closing 4 run final season and successful a gold medal with USA Basketball’s U-16 workforce within the FIBA ​​Americas whereas in highschool.

It is all been main up up to now — draft night time Thursday at Barclays Heart — when Griffin will grow to be the primary Stepinac alum to be a first-round choose and be a part of his father within the NBA.

“It’s going to be one like no different,” he stated. “Sharing that second with my household shall be simply an incredible time and it is undoubtedly going to be a reminiscence I will not neglect.”

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