Duke basketball: AJ Griffin now leads entire country in one respect

Duke basketball forward AJ Griffin (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball forward AJ Griffin (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

Duke basketball has another budding superstar on its hands in AJ Griffin.

AJ Griffin, whose Duke basketball career began with setbacks stemming from a preseason knee injury, must know by now that it’s not where one starts that matters. Still, after capitalizing on his first start as a collegian in the No. 8 Duke Blue Devils’ 76-64 bounce-back road win over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Wednesday night, a full-time starting gig suddenly feels inevitable.

The numbers sure seem to support that argument.

As the program’s official Twitter account pointed out this week, Griffin’s offensive rating (a measurement of a player’s production capacity per 100 possessions) is straight-up off the charts. In fact, among all D-I players this season who take at least 20 percent of a team’s shot attempts while on the floor, the Blue Devil freshman sits atop the list with his insane 139.8 mark.

The Duke basketball weapon’s recent uptick in minutes and importance

As a 6-foot-6, 220-pound chiseled small forward whose athleticism, physicality, and smoothness are beginning to look well beyond his years, AJ Griffin is carving out a co-star role alongside fellow rookie Paolo Banchero, especially of late.

Across his past seven outings, including his career-high 22-point effort at Wake Forest, Griffin has averaged 13.1 points and 4.4 rebounds in only 18.9 minutes per game. He’s done so while shooting 32-for-51 (62.7 percent) from the field, 13-for-26 (50.0 percent) from three, and 15-for-21 (71.4 percent) from the charity stripe.

Compare those stats to Griffin’s averages of 4.0 points and 1.9 rebounds in his measly 10.5 minutes per game through Duke’s first eight contests.

Now, imagine what AJ Griffin might become in the coming months should he draw 30-plus minutes per game from here on out.

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more on AJ Griffin’s blossoming freshman campaign plus other Duke basketball news and views.