If you were to watch a random Florida State game in the 2020-2021 college basketball season, it’s likely that you wouldn’t remember anything in particular that Scotty Barnes achieved. A veteran team freshman with high expectations, Barnes was assigned to fill the role. He played 24 minutes per game, averaging 10 points and four rebounds. In his last game, Barnes finished with eight points, one rebound and three assists as Florida State lost to Michigan in the Sweet 16.
It came as a stun to casual college basketball fans when Barnes was selected fourth in the stacked draft class – one spot ahead of the much more prominent Jalen Suggs, who led Gonzaga to an NCAA championship game in one of the most memorable tournaments. shots per generation.
Fast forward to the 2021-2022 college season and swap Florida State for Duke and Barnes for A.J. Griffin. Griffin, a newcomer to a team full of NBA prospects, was asked to play the part and put in numbers that matched those of Barnes: 24 minutes, 10 points, four rebounds. In Griffin’s last game, he had six points, four rebounds and one assist as North Carolina eliminated Duke from the Final Four.
This is why staff appraisal in a team sport can be so frustrating. The context of comparing one player to another extends throughout the map. How do you compare Griffin to, say, Jaden Ivey, who had to carry the burden of Purdue’s offense on his shoulders, and then compare them both to Shaydon Sharp, who never played a second in college basketball? Here’s a look at Griffin:
FIRST ROUND CANDIDATE: AJ Griffin
IDENTIFICATION CARD: Forward 6’6, Duke, 18.
EXHAUST RANGE: 8th placeth Athletic, 9th by ESPN.com, 10th Ringer, 7th according to bleach report, 11th by SI.com
SCOUTS LOVE: A devastating three-point shot with a strong athletic build is a great starting point. Griffin was shooting .447 from the 3-point arc on relatively high volume at Duke, 4.4 attempts per game on a team with the potential of three lottery picks and five top 40 picks. Griffin averaged 10.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 24 minutes per game, fifth on Duke’s team in the latter category. Griffin gets high marks for his time and overall ability to hit hard, which is usually a pretty good indicator of basketball IQ. He is universally praised for his conduct as a teammate and his maturity, despite being one of the youngest players in the draft, not turning 19 until August. Griffin doesn’t know how to stop the ball in the slightest, making quick decisions to shoot, pass or dribble, a quality everyone admires in the NBA. Although Griffin, the son of longtime NBA player and current Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, was not measured or tested in the NBA draft, his wingspan is 7 feet.
SCOUTS ARE SURPRISED: Griffin missed two seasons of his high school career with knee and ankle injuries, and scouts missed his athleticism in Duke, which has always been one of his tools. Coming to terms with this controversy will be as much key to where Griffin lands on draft night than anything else. Because everything else is “what’s not to love?” situation, Griffin may have been vastly underestimated in the pre-draft process. There’s a fine line between fitting into a talented roster and being completely passive, and it’s become a bit unclear which side Griffin might have been on during his one year at Duke in a season dominated by Mike Krzyszewski’s swan fixation. song. Another possible red flag for Griffin comes on the defensive side, where his mediocre performance could once again be linked to lower body injuries and recovery. He showed no evidence of lateral fluid movement. It’s hard to imagine an 18-year-old whose athleticism is forever eroded by a non-traumatic injury, so how confident teams are in answering questions about Griffin’s health will determine his fate in the draft.
REMARK NUMBER: .179 was Griffin’s free throw rate, the number of penalties he took for a field goal attempt. That’s low for a player of Griffin’s size, strength, and perceived athleticism – teammate Paolo Banchero, for example, had a .366 and Iowa’s Keegan Murray .343 – and may indicate the distance he has to travel to get bigger. than just an NBA player.
MONEY QUOTE: “His level of play will match whatever level he plays at. At Duke, he raised his level to this level. In the NBA, he will raise his level. If he becomes a rotator, he will raise his game to this level. If he becomes a starter, he will raise his game to that level.” — Anonymous Team USA member to David Aldridge of The Athletic.
FIT PISTONS: AJ Griffin’s idea of a strong, athletic 7-foot-span wing with elite three-point shooting ability fits Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey on the Pistons’ perimeter perfectly. Dwayne Casey will mix and match lineups freely as long as he feels he has enough shots and rebounds on the floor, so Troy Weaver is probably not going to get hung up on what position Griffin is best to play in. Griffin’s IQ, flickering movement and flashes of passing ability he’s shown round out an offensive game built on elite 3-pointer potential. Shooting is the main trait the Pistons want to fill in a vacuum to complement Cunningham, and Griffin is likely at the top of the pyramid among potential fifth-pick candidates as a clean shooter.
BOTTOM LINE: Given the enthusiastic coverage of Griffin that comes from USA Basketball, Duke, and elsewhere, and looking at his birth certificate, it’s reasonable to safely assume that Griffin has both a lot of growth potential and the cosmetics to achieve it. If Griffin’s medical records turn out to be clean, and the medical and conditioning staff agree that an explosive athlete is waiting to be unlocked by mere physical maturity and a rigorous training regimen, Griffin will be a legitimate candidate for fifth place.