INDIANAPOLIS — The foundation has been 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 of all time, Mike Krzyzewski. These two gave him a roadmap for the NBA, which could lead him to the Pacers.
Indiana has the No. 6 pick in the June 23 draft and hosted Griffin for individual practice on Monday. The 6-6 swingman shot 44.7% on 4.1 3-point attempts per game in the 2021-22 season, and he’d look a lot good if paired with Pacers star point guard Tyrese Haliburton.
“I think I would be fine,” Griffin said. “Just being able to play with guys who are looking for their open teammates and pushing your teammates forward, I think I would fit right in…I love Tyrese’s game.”
Another projected lottery pick, G League Ignite’s Dyson Daniels, recently said he’d play well with Haliburton as well, and when the Pacers host Wisconsin star Johnny Davis for one-on-one training on Tuesday, he’ll likely say the same thing.
After:G League Ignite’s Dyson Daniels thinks he could get in touch with Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton
After:Arizona star Bennedict Mathurin is the highest-ranked prospect to participate in Pacers practice
What these two can’t say, however, is that their fathers gave them the same blueprint as Griffin’s. Adrian Griffin has played nine seasons in the NBA and is preparing 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 to be able to get so much knowledge and wisdom from my dad,” Griffin said. “To be able to give you the information and guidance to take that next step. To be able to know what’s coming, to know how to handle responsibilities.”
Something else Griffin learned from his father and his family? How to win.
Before Griffin, 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 clashed with his older brother, Alan, and her older sister, Aubrey. Alan played at Illinois and Syracuse, while Aubrey plays for UConn Powerhouse.
“I think that’s where I got my competitive edge, also playing against my brother and sister. She was beating me 1-1 when I was younger,” Griffin said with a laugh. “And I think that triggered a push in me – to not have that feeling. Because every time I lost to my brother or something, I got mad. In the car (driving) home , (I would) just be mad at the loss, and I think that’s what motivated me to keep working hard.”
Griffin averaged 10.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game in his only 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 stellar campaign, he’s had a string of knee and ankle injuries dating back to high school, which could make some lottery teams reluctant to draft him. However, Griffin said he “felt the best I’ve ever felt before” and was looking forward to competing in the NBA.
“Definitely my playmaking skills and my ability to create dribbling, and just play defense,” Griffin said of his other translatable skills besides shooting. “That’s something I’m proud of. Being able to, whatever my mission, I’ll be able to lock it up.”
Griffin also did a pre-draft workout for the Trail Blazers (No. 7 pick) with “a few more to come.” He didn’t reveal which teams, but one of them is the Pelicans (No. 8), per HoopsHype.
“When you come to the NBA lottery and know where your lineup might be, obviously you want to see what kind of teams you’ll potentially be with,” Griffin said. “I’m just excited to be drafted.”
Follow IndyStar Pacers Insider James Boyd on Twitter at @RoméovilleKid.