Duke basketball’s ideal No. 2: What to expect from AJ Griffin

Duke basketball freshman AJ Griffin (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Duke basketball freshman AJ Griffin (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

AJ Griffin has all the tools to be a star for the Duke basketball program.

Many things can be said about this recruiting class, but one thing for certain is the basketball world isn’t putting enough respect on the name of incoming Duke basketball freshman AJ Griffin.

The Blue Devils not only have one of the most underrated players in the nation, but they also have one of the best players in the nation when it comes to Griffin. In terms of his skillset and what he brings, it’s everything that a championship-seeking team needs.

Basketball is something that runs in the bloodline of the Griffin family. AJ’s father, Adrian Griffin, spent 10 seasons in the NBA and is currently an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors, where former Dukie Gary Trent Jr. is a restricted free agent.

The talented 6-foot-6 forward showcased his tremendous skill during his junior year in high school. Residing in New York and playing for Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.), Griffin was one of the most impressive players in the country, averaging 17.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game — stats that could’ve increased had the pandemic not tarnished his senior year.

Griffin also showed glimpses of what he can do on the international circuit. In the 2019 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, he averaged 13.5 points and a team-high 3.3 steals per game in six contests. His size at that age was already something to behold, which is laughable compared to the frame that Griffin holds now.

It’s a frame that will translate perfectly on the college level.

What does the Duke basketball freshman bring to the Blue Devils?

AJ Griffin brings many great aspects on offense, but arguably the best thing about what he brings to the game is his abilities on defense.

The luxury of having a father who played in the NBA is very prominent within Griffin due to his extremely high basketball IQ. His ability to see plays develop as a defender and beat the offensive player to the spot is extraordinary. Expect Griffin to be picking up guards full-court many times throughout the season.

He might be a pesky on-ball defender, but the New York native can adapt to many different play styles when it comes to offense. During the FIBA U16 Championship, Griffin proved that he doesn’t need to be a heavy usage player to be dominant. Although he was playing with the best preps in the nation during that time, he will also be playing with some great players at Duke.

Having Paolo Banchero as Griffin’s co-star could be the perfect pairing since their playstyles mesh so well with each other. Both players are low-ego athletes and prioritize not only winning but playing basketball the right way over anything else. Something that will be demanded by head coach Mike Krzyzewski game in and game out is to play the game the right way.

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Fans might not be aware of just how good this team could potentially be. Without putting absurd expectations on the roster, it’s safe to say AJ Griffin will definitely help Duke be much better than they were last season.