NBA Draft: Grading every first-round pick after rookie year

2022 NBA Draft Class. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images
2022 NBA Draft Class. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images /
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NBA Draft
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – APRIL 04: AJ Griffin #14 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts after scoring in the second half against the Chicago Bulls at United Center on April 04, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

16. Atlanta Hawks – AJ Griffin, Duke

Duke Blue Devils went back-to-back in the 2022 NBA Draft, with the Atlanta Hawks taking the plunge with AJ Griffin at pick No. 16. A top-heralded recruit, Griffin suffered a knee injury heading into his freshman season that seemed to have a major effect on him. NBA evaluators had to determine how much better a healthy Griffin would be, and at the same time whether his multiple injuries portended a career of battling injuries.

It looks like the answer to the first question was “a lot” because Griffin was excellent as a rookie. He was highly efficient as a shooter, shooting 39 percent from 3-point range and a highly-supportive 89 percent from the free-throw line. His athleticism also came back, with Griffin able to sky for rebounds or finish with pop at the rim.

NBA teams want athletic wings who can shoot and play defense, making Griffin a hot commodity. Walker Kessler would go higher than Griffin in a redraft, but given the Hawks’ depth there, it doesn’t make sense to ding them for taking Griffin instead. He was the absolute right pick; the Hawks nailed it.

Grade: A