Wizards

AJ Griffin a boom-or-bust prospect worth taking a swing on

Wizards
AJ Griffin

The Washington Wizards have the 10th-best lottery odds for the 2022 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select....

2022 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Profile: AJ Griffin

School: Duke

Position: Small forward

Age: 18 (turns 19 August 25)

Height: 6-6

Weight: 222

Wingspan: 7-0

2021/22 stats: 39 G, 10.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.6 bpg, 49.3 FG% (3.7/7.6), 44.7 3PT% (1.8/4.1), 79.2 FT% (1.1/1.4)

Player comparison: Jaylen Brown

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 8th, Sports Illustrated 10th, Ringer 6th, Athletic N/A, ESPN 8th, NBADraft.net 8th, Bleacher Report 6th

5 things to know:

- Griffin has top-five talent, but if you're going to use a top-10 selection on a player that talented, you'd hope he's a bit more NBA-ready than he is after one season at Duke. Injuries in high school limited his reps and stunted his development early on, making him one of the more raw prospects you'll see taken in the lottery.

- He may be raw, but Griffin is already a good scorer and shooter with a reliable stroke that should translate to the next level. It's a bit slow on the release and he'll have to work on speeding it up, but Griffin shot over 49% from the floor, 44% from three and 79% from the free-throw line at Duke. For a young wing, those numbers are incredibly encouraging when projecting his future as an off-ball scorer.

 

- Griffin suffered two separate knee injuries in high school that caused him to miss nearly two years of game action. He also struggled with an ankle injury during his freshman season at Duke. For a player who needs more time and seasoning on the floor, he hasn't been healthy enough to get those reps. 

- With a 6'6, 220-pound frame to go along with a 7'0 wingspan and the athleticism he possesses, Griffin's defensive potential is off the charts. He defends with effort as well, but the fundamentals just aren't there yet. Whether he's caught in bad positioning or he misses a rotation, Griffin's inexperience shows the most on the defensive end of the floor. The good news is he has the physical tools and desire to compete on that end. Every minus he has as a defender is completely teachable. 

- Similar to his comparison Jaylen Brown, Griffin struggles to create for others when he has the ball. He projects as a great isolation scorer, but he'll need to polish off his playmaking skills some day if he wants to blossom into a star. At least for now he's a low-turnover player who flashes with great passes to teammates from time to time. 

Fit with Wizards:

Griffin's fit with the Wizards as currently constructed is a bit wonky. With Bradley Beal, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Corey Kispert and Deni Avdija on the roster already, Griffin doesn't exactly have a great path to regular minutes. If he's able to develop his game quicker than anticipated and provide a two-way impact as a rookie, Wes Unseld Jr. won't have a hard time getting him on the floor. 

But without a rotation spot carved out for him right away, it'll be tough for a raw prospect like Griffin to provide the kind of value Washington needs out of its first-round pick this year. However, the Wizards' core that'd be keeping Griffin away from regular minutes isn't exactly championship caliber, so if a player with All-Star upside like this is on the board for Tommy Sheppard, it's easier to justify creating a logjam at the wing.

If there's one position in which you simply can't have enough talent, it's on the wing. Griffin has elite traits in aspects of the game you can't teach and he just needs proper coaching and development to round out his flaws. 

2022 NBA Draft profiles:

Jabari Smith Jr., Auburn

Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

Jaden Ivey, Purdue

Paolo Banchero, Duke

Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky