On Tuesday, Steve Popper wrote about the sweet-shooting AJ Griffin (6’6”, 222 lbs, Duke) in Newsday. Your knees may buckle while watching Adrian Darnell “AJ” Griffin Jr.’s stroke, but injuries limited his high-school playing career and that has raised a red flag for some NBA scouts. Draft night is Thursday, folks!
In the piece, Popper referenced how the New York Knicks whiffed on drafting Donovan Mitchell and drew comparisons to Griffin—both players grew up in New York and have ties to Knicks’ brass. After almost a decade playing in the NBA, AJ’s father served as an assistant coach when Tom Thibodeau helmed Chicago.
Popper quoted ESPN’s Jay Bilas at length:
“There’s no player in this draft with the amount of attempts that he had that shot the ball as well as he did. He shot right under 46% from three. And he’s one of the best shooters in this draft, if not the best shooter. He’s 91st percentile if I remember right in that department, and he can guard. With his length, he’s got a 7-foot wingspan at about 6-5, 6-6. He’s not one of these sort of guys who lead with his athleticism. But he’s athletic, and he does a good job in keeping his matchup in front of him. If I remember right, I think he held his assignment to around 36% from the field on the season. That’s pretty darn good. He’s a good player, and I think he showed with his improvement that he’s got a pretty high ceiling.”
But what about that supposed injury history? As Alex Wolfe observed in today’s Locked on Knicks podcast, “For all this injury concern, AJ Griffin played every game this year.”
Yep, the 2021-22 ACC All-Freshman played in all 39 games and averaged 24 minutes per contest, 10.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, and one assist while shooting 49% from the floor and 45% from deep. Additionally, Stefan Bondy called the injury concerns “overblown” over at the Daily News.
Griffin’s point totals would have gone up if he’d been featured more in Duke’s offense. In the end, he ranked fourth on the team in field goal attempts with 296. For comparison, the team’s lead option, Paolo Banchero, took 513 shots. (Look for Banchero to be selected in the top three tomorrow night.)
Griffin, who had a 61% eFG and 63% true shooting, won’t turn 19 until August. P&T’s own Kento Kato profiled him here.
For the record, Malcolm Brogdon’s injury history is far more concerning than Griffin’s.
Today at the Athletic.com, Fred Katz reported that the Knicks, who are on the market for a lead ball-handler, are interested in taking Brogdon off Indiana’s hands. According to Katz, “He has three years and about $68 million remaining on his contract after signing an extension in October.” (Article is behind a paywall.)
Katz added, “His salary isn’t as gaudy once you start rattling off what other point guards make. He’s due for $22.6 million in 2022-23, which will make him the NBA’s 16th-highest-paid point guard.” He speculated that a first-round pick would be required to get the veteran point guard. The Knicks possess this year’s 11th pick.
Brogdon has averaged 15.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.8 assists over his six-year career. He’s a 46% shooter from the floor and 38% from deep, but his perimeter average dropped to a career-low 31% last season with the Pacers.
More troublesome is the number of games that he has missed in his time with Milwaukee and Indiana. In three years with Indy, he has played only 146 out of 227 games. That’s 81 games missed, which is essentially an entire season.
For as skilled as he is, Brogdon has not proven to be an impactful player, and he turns 30 in December. What are the odds that he hits his peaks of performance and health in his next decade? Not great, right?
The Knicks need a healthy player with enough juice to put the team on his back on occasion. Brogdon ain’t that.
Knicks rumors continue to swirl around Draft Night and whether their front office will trade up or down. Both Ian Begley and NBA Analysis Network have reported that Cam Reddish has been included in trade talks, and over at Yarkbarker, Zach Dimmitt suggests that the Spurs might be interested in swapping their ninth pick for the Knicks’ young wing.
Allegedly, the Knicks front office has been trying to swing a move for Sacramento’s fourth pick, or Detroit’s fifth spot. If a San Antonio swap is the only option available to them, Leon Rose & Co. would have to decide if the guy they’d draft at nine has more upside than Reddish, who has yet to play more than 15 games in New York.
It’s easy to see why the Spurs would be interested in Cam:
Reddish would give the Spurs another shooter with length that can develop nicely as a third, or ideally, secondary scoring option down the line. He wouldn’t be taking any minutes from the fast-developing Devin Vassell, but Reddish is still just 22 years old as he enters his fourth year in the league. Writing him off as a “bust” with no real NBA role in front of him would be foolish.
Tough to say. I could see the Knicks making the deal if Dyson Daniels or Bennedict Mathurin are still on the board. On the other hand, I’d love to see what Reddish, the 10th pick in the 2019 draft, still has to offer. His size and skills are hard to part with.
One looming question is what will happen to Knicks veteran Alec Burks? He played out of position at point guard for much of last season after the Kemba Walker experiment failed. CBS Sports has speculated that he will be traded to help clear money for Jalen Brunson,
Today, Fred Katz reported that after the season, “Burks underwent foot surgery and is expected to return for the start of training camp.”
I've heard the Knicks have been making a legitimate effort to move Alec Burks with the hopes of taking back little-to-no salary. The news about his surgery for sure affects his value. If healthy, Burks is considered around a net-neutral contract. He makes $10M expiring next year.— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) June 22, 2022
The nature of the surgery was unspecified, but one can assume that it has complicated the Knicks’ attempts to move the 30-year-old guard, who was one of the most reliable Knickerbockers during his two years in New York.
Finally, New York magazine posted an article today on the state of the Nets called, “The Nets Are Outdoing the Knicks in Dysfunction.” The title alone is catnip for me. Enjoy, and peace til next time.