2022 NBA Draft: Duke's AJ Griffin turns pro after overcoming knee injury and finishing freshman year strong

2022 NBA Draft: Duke’s AJ Griffin turns pro after overcoming knee injury and finishing freshman year strong


Duke wing AJ Griffin announced Sunday he is declaring for the NBA Draft after a standout freshman season with the Blue Devils. Griffin earned ACC All-Rookie Team honors and ranked among the nation’s top freshmen all season while helping Duke win an ACC title and reach the Final Four.

Griffin entered Duke as a five-star prospect but started slow as he worked his way back from a preseason knee injury. But Griffin became one of the nation’s most lethal outside shooters as the season progressed. He ended the season shooting 44.7% from beyond the arc. In conference games, that mark was other-worldly 48.9%.

For a Duke team that lost its top perimeter shooters from the 2020-21 season with the departures of Matthew Hurt and DJ Steward, Griffin’s emergence and shooting consistency were critical on the team’s journey to a 32-7 record in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final season. Griffin finished the year averaging 12.6 points and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 50.6% from the floor overall.

AJ Griffin’s NBA Draft screening

Griffin already has a fairly significant injury history for a young player, and that may be a source of concern for NBA teams. But his 6-foot-6 frame and 3-point prowess are tantalizing. Griffin has all the makings of a prototypical “3 and D” player at the next level. He went No. 9 to the Spurs in Kyle Boone’s most recent mock draft and ranks No. 7 on Boone’s Big Board.

“At Duke, Griffin took a backseat frequently to Wendell Moore and fellow one-and-done talent Banchero,” Boone wrote. “He was inconsistent, which was not unexpected after starting the year injured. Nevertheless, the flashes of stardom he showed in spurts should easily get him into the lottery. Great 3-point shooter, strong frame and positionally can fit into just about any roster with his defensive potential, shooting and creation.”

Impact on Duke

As first-year coach Jon Scheyer inherits the program from the legendary Mike Krzyzewski, he will likely be dealing with an overhauled roster. Griffin is just one of several Blue Devils from the 2021-22 roster who could leave to pursue professional careers. As a former Duke player and assistant whose seen substantial roster turnover before, Scheyer appears equipped to handle the transition.

Duke has the nation’s No. 1 signing class locked in. The group is highlighted by three of the top five players in the class in Derek Lively II, Kyle Filipowski and Dariq Whitehead. The Blue Devils may be among the nation’s youngest teams again next season, but they will also be among the most-talented in spite of what they are likely to lose in the draft. However, replacing Griffin’s 3-point shooting prowess won’t be easy.

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