The Knicks have a real chance to land Westchester County’s AJ Griffin in the NBA draft – The Mercury News

If he’s available, the hometown option would intrigue the Knicks on draft night.

AJ Griffin of the Duke, a product of the County of Westchester and an Archbishop Stepinac graduate, was previously considered outside the rank of Leon Rose. still be on board.

For 18-year-old sharpshooting, the idea of ​​being drafted by his home team is an exciting prospect, much like Obie Toppin’ two years ago.

“Playing for the Knicks would be like a dream come true,” Griffin said. “Obviously I grew up here and that would be a fun time in New York. I know the plays. I know most of the players. It would be really, really, really cool. I don’t know those feelings.” Which is what I’m feeling about it. I just know it’s going to be exciting.”

According to multiple sources, The Knicks target Purdue guard Jaden Ivey, but need to be traded for that opportunity. Ivey, a potential lead guard with elite athleticism, is expected to come in fourth or fifth place, and jumping there will be expensive in terms of future first-round picks and chances.

Griffin has been on his radar, but could go past 11th, with Portland (7th), New Orleans (8th) and San Antonio (9th) showing interest.

As one of the youngest draft prospects, Griffin is a gamble on ability with a sweet jump shot. Injury concerns hurt Griffin’s stock, but his former Stepinac coach, Pat Massaroni, explained to the Daily News that they were either overreacted or misunderstood.

As a junior, Griffin had his knee amputated in January but would have returned if the season had not been called off due to COVID-19. “Not a thing tore,” said Masaroni. Griffin was then ruled out of his senior season, but that was only because Stepinac’s schedule had been derailed by the pandemic.

“He didn’t get hurt,” Masaroni said. “It was just New York’s strictest reopening policy.”

Griffin instead relocated to Florida, where his father was an assistant coach on the Raptors (the franchise moved to Tampa that season), and took classes at Zoom during Duke’s preparation by training with professionals.

He sprained his left knee during Duke’s preseason and recovered to play 39 games – 25 starts – while averaging 10.4 points and 3.9 rebounds. Most impressive, Griffin shot 45% on 3-pointers and hit 5 of his 6 attempts in the NCAA Final Four win over Arkansas.

There was no hesitation in announcing the draft.

“Going into Duke, my mindset was 1-and-first. We had that conversation before the season even started,” Griffin said.

Now his relationship with the Knicks includes, among other things, the draft range.

Griffin’s father, Adrian, spent five seasons as an assistant coach in Chicago under Tom Thibodeau, peaking in 2010 with the Bulls reaching the conference finals.

Son is also represented by the CAA, the agency closely associated with the Knicks for the better part of the past 12 years, and most notably now that former CAA agents Leon Rose and William Wesley are running the show.

Griffin, who grew up in Oceaning, NY, played for the PSA Cardinals, a New York-based AAU program. His high school was less than 10 miles from the Knicks’ training facility in Tarrytown, where Griffin did his final pre-draft workout in a 1-on-0 setting.

He imagines himself a strong fit next to RJ Barrett, a fellow former Blue Devil. Griffin’s arrival will create a numbers crunch in the wing, but Alec Burks, Ivan Fournier and Cam Radish are already candidates in the trade.

“I think just from watching (Barrett) play, I think our game – we’ll be good together,” Griffin said. “I know he likes to facilitate, get down, get the spot shot. I think we’re from Duke, we just got that Duke connection, I think it would be cool to play with him and we really I will complement each other’s games.”

Masaroni Stepinac will be at Barclays Center on Draft Night with the players and other coaches. They will be happy with the hometown pick.

“It’s very real for him if this happens,” Masaroni said. “And for us too. And for me personally, being a Knicks fan has been my whole life growing up. And a lot of people in this area, you had a kid who played four years at Stepinac, a year at Duke Played, and to be back home, would be awesome in many ways.


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