INDIANAPOLIS — The foundation was laid, now, all Duke star AJ Griffin has to do is build on it.
The 18-year-old’s father, Adrian, is a former NBA veteran and current Raptors assistant, and Griffin played for arguably the greatest college coach ever, Mike Krzyzewski. Those two gave him a road map to the NBA, which could lead him to the Pacers.
Indiana has the No. 6 pick in the draft on June 23 and hosted Griffin for an individual workout Monday. The 6-6 swingman shot 44.7% on 4.1 3-point attempts per game during the 2021-22 season, and he’d get plenty of good looks if paired with Pacers star point guard Tyrese Haliburton.
“I think I would fit perfectly,” Griffin said. “Just being able to play with guys who look for their open teammates and get your teammates going, I think I would fit perfectly… I love Tyrese’s game.”
Another projected lottery pick, G League Ignite’s Dyson Daniels, recently said he’d play well with Haliburton, too, and when the Pacers host Wisconsin star Johnny Davis for an individual workout Tuesday, he’ll most likely say the same thing.
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What those two can’t say, though, is that their fathers have given them the same blueprint as Griffin’s. Adrian Griffin played nine seasons in the NBA and is preparing for his 15th as an assistant. In his first year with the Raptors, they defeated the Warriors to win the 2019 NBA championship.
“I think it’s great being able to get as much knowledge and wisdom from my dad,” Griffin said. “To be able to give you the information and advice on taking this next step. To be able to know what’s coming, know how to deal with the responsibilities.”
Something else Griffin learned from his father and family? How to win.
Before Griffin, projected top-three pick Paolo Banchero and potential lottery pick Mark Williams led the Blue Devils to the Final Four in Coach K’s final season, Griffin went toe-to-toe with his older brother, Alan, and older sister, Aubrey. Alan played at Illinois and Syracuse, while Aubrey plays for powerhouse UConn.
“I think that’s where I got my competitive edge, playing against my brother and my sister, too. She used to beat me 1-on-1 when I was younger,” Griffin said, laughing. “And I think that sparked a drive inside of me — to not have that feeling. Because every single time I lose to my brother or something, I would get upset. Car (ride) back home, (I would) just be mad with that loss, and I think that’s what motivated me to keep working hard.”
Griffin averaged 10.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game during his lone season at Duke, highlighted by five 20-point outings. He was named to the ACC All-Rookie Team alongside teammates Banchero and Trevor Keels.
Despite Griffin’s noteworthy campaign, he’s had a series of knee and ankle injuries dating back to high school, which could make some lottery teams hesitant to draft him. However, Griffin said he “feels the best I’ve ever felt before” and looks forward to competing in the NBA.
“Definitely my playmaking skills and being able to create off the dribble, and just playing defense,” Griffin said of his other translatable skills besides shooting. “That’s one thing I’ve been taking pride in. Just be able to, whoever my assignment is, I’ll be able to lock him down.”
Griffin has also done a pre-draft workout for the Trail Blazers (No. 7 pick) with “a few more coming up.” He did not disclose which teams, but one of them is the Pelicans (No. 8), per HoopsHype.
“When you get to the NBA lottery and you know where your range could be, you obviously want to see what kind of teams you’ll potentially be with,” Griffin said. “I’m just excited to get drafted.”
Follow IndyStar Pacers Insider James Boyd on Twitter at @RomeovilleKid,