Duke basketball players look to make major impact on NBA this season

Duke basketball wing AJ Griffin (Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball wing AJ Griffin (Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports) /

A pair of Duke basketball players will be looking to make a major impact on their NBA franchise. 

The Atlanta Hawks have been on an upward trajectory in recent years, and this upcoming NBA season promises to be no different with two young Duke basketball talents, Jalen Johnson and AJ Griffin, seeing significant time on the floor.

Jalen Johnson, the versatile 6-foot-9 forward, can be used to play multiple positions due to his ability to handle the ball, create for teammates, and score from various spots on the floor. He’s also a world-class athlete who excels in transition and is a plus defender.

Hawks head coach Quinn Snyder is a master tactician whose offensive philosophy is not to allow his players to be ‘ball stoppers’ and the expectation is that he will deploy Johnson in various schemes, even taking some of the creative load off Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.

The one knock on Johnson is his outside shooting.

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He must do the work and improve his shooting drastically to take that next step in his development after he shot an abysmal 28-percent from 3-point range and 62-percent from the charity stripe in 14 minutes per game.

Duke basketball forward ready to stay healthy and shine

AJ Griffin played 19 minutes per game last season and put up respectable numbers with 8.9 points per contest while shooting 39-percent from beyond the arc and 89-percent from the free throw line in 72 games.

Griffin is known for his exceptional 3-point shooting and is a good finisher around the rim. He allows his star-studded backcourt to shine by keeping the defense honest with his lethal jump shot and ability to space the floor.

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Guards like Trae Young, who has a gift and is blessed with excellent court vision combined with tremendous gravity, can draw multiple defenders, often leading to wide-open attempts for AJ Griffin.

Assuming he stays healthy, it would be great to see Griffin return to being the supreme athlete he was before his knee injury in high school. If he returns to that, we could see another Duke player with a max contract in the NBA.

Jalen Johnson and AJ Griffin’s skillsets complement the existing roster, adding depth and versatility to the Hawks’ lineup as they continue to develop and integrate into the team’s’ system.

Keep an eye on the Atlanta Hawks because this is a team on the rise.

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