AJ Griffin ready to silence the doubters at Trail Blazers predraft workout
Forward AJ Griffin has heard the talk about his game.
The shooting numbers are great, but plenty of draft prognosticators say his defense is lacking.
Mix that in with some health questions dating back to his junior year of high school, and Griffin is seen as a project player with a high ceiling in this year's NBA Draft slated for June 23.
Griffin was in Portland on Thursday for a solo workout with the team and said he's heard the critiques. Now he wants a shot to prove them all wrong.
"I just want to prove everyone wrong. When they say you can't do something, it makes you more motivated to go show them you can do something," Griffin said. "I was talking to myself, I would literally say, 'You can't play defense,' as like, the people saying that to me. That makes me more fired up to prove everyone wrong, get that edge."
Griffin, currently 18-years-old and set to turn 19 in August, was one of college basketball's best 3-point shooters last season as he shot 44.7% from deep in 39 games played.
With a wide stance and a slow trigger though, there's still plenty to work on with his shot heading into the NBA level where a faster release will be needed.
From the floor, Griffin shot at a 49.3% clip and was 79% from the free throw line. At 6-foot-6, Griffin fits the bill of an offensive-minded forward, but not one with much size to help on defense.
Griffin does have a 7-foot wingspan to give him the physical tools to be a solid 3-and-D player in the NBA, now it's all about proving it after some lingering injuries have derailed his minutes at times.
"At the beginning of the college season a lot of people saw I was coming off of injury," Griffin said. "I'm still capable of playing at a high level. I'm really just working on whatever they say I can't do."
Griffin might have an inside scoop to those talks as his dad Adrian is currently an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors and has been a coach in the league since 2008.
"I think I lean on him a lot," Griffin said of his dad. "You're new to this level and you want to ask as many questions as you can, there's no bad questions.
"When you learn that mental part first, the game becomes easier, and you start to play better."
Portland has the No. 7 pick in the upcoming draft and has held three previous workouts that included other projected lottery picks in Dyson Daniels from the G League, Bennedict Mathurin from Arizona and Jalen Duren from Memphis.
The forward position is of high importance for the Blazers with guys like Nassir Little, Justise Winslow and Josh Hart all capable of playing there, but don't necessarily fit the bill of a starting NBA forward due to size or play style.
There's a strong chance Portland ends up trading the No. 7 pick, and potentially their No. 36 and No. 59 pick as well, for more NBA-veteran forwards.
But with someone like Griffin who has already proven to be a strong shooter and appears to have the needed drive on defense, Portland could be convinced to keep the pick and use it on someone like the Duke forward.
The Blazers will host their next workout Friday, June 10 with the participants, or participant as the last three workouts have been solo, early Friday morning.
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