Hawks rookie AJ Griffin selected for NBA Rising Stars Game

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Atlanta Hawks rookie AJ Griffin has been selected to the 2022-23 NBA Rising Stars Game at All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City, per Shams Charania:

The 21 NBA players will be drafted into three seven-player teams, with Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Deron Williams serving as coaches, while Jason Terry will lead the G League team. All four will play in a semifinal game, and the two winners will meet in the championship.

AJ Griffin deserves the honor. He’s provided efficient shooting for a team that has struggled in that area all season. The Duke product averages nearly 10 points per game on 48.6% shooting from the field, 40.8% from deep, and 91.7% from the line. What’s even more impressive is hardly any of his shots have come within the restricted area; he’s doing it all from beyond the three-point line and at the midrange.

The Hawks had been hesitant to play him for whatever reason, but his role has consistently increased as the season progresses, which is necessary. When the postseason comes, the Hawks need him in a groove and confident whenever he’s on the floor. He’s been an excellent addition and lessens the sting of losing Kevin Huerter. AJ Griffin was Travis Schlenk’s final gift:

Griffin’s breakout performance came earlier in the season against the Bucks. Without Trae Young, Atlanta upset Milwaukee, handing the Bucks their first loss of the season behind Griffin’s 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting.

As the season has progressed and the rookie’s opportunities grow, Griffin has become more comfortable and inherently more effective. The Duke product has two game-winning baskets against the Raptors and Bulls.

Nobody is going to argue that Griffin is the Rookie of the Year, but he’s playing like a top 10 first-year player right now. His stat line won’t blow anyone away, but his efficiency should.

Griffin is averaging nearly 10 points on an almost 50/40/90 shooting split… that’s unbelievable for a young man that is only 19-years-old, regardless of the attempts. He has a special combination of size and skill, able to play the 2 or 3. Moreover, he’s no slouch on the defensive end.

Griffin has been a great team defender, given his length and basketball IQ. His on-ball defense is sometimes concerning because he lacks first-step explosiveness, but the effort is always there. Most importantly, Griffin doesn’t play outside of his limits. His energy is contagious, and he looks eager to improve his game in every facet; it seems the Hawks hit on another mid-first-round pick — Travis Schlenk’s parting gift.

Despite leaving on terrible terms, Travis Schlenk has to be feeling good about the last first-round selection of his Hawks career. I’m sure he’s rooting for Griffin to succeed in the league.

Congratulations, AJ Griffin. The rookie has a bright future in the NBA, and he’ll put it on display at the Rising Stars Game.

Photographer: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

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