NBA

Why a Rudy Gobert deal with the Hawks is more likely after the draft

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The Utah Jazz held off the 2022 NBA draft last Thursday, making no moves ahead of, during or following draft night. Outside of the wild moves between the New York Knicks and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the league was silent on the big trades.

One point remains, all the same: the Utah Jazz need to move.

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After 3 years of that Mitchell-Gobert-Bogdanovic-Conley core group, two first-round playoff exits and a demoralizing loss to the Clippers without Kawhi set Utah up for a modified approach this coming season.

Is it new direction without 3x DPOY and multiple times All-NBA and All-Star Rudy Gobert?

He could very well. Not only are trade rumors circulating, but members of the media have begun commenting on Utah’s active involvement in deals that include the big man:

The Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks are the most talked about contenders. Both teams make sense as landing spots for Gobert as Chicago craves a defensive presence in the middle to complement their well-rounded guards and wings while Atlanta have an array of players and picks with which to shore up their roster. .

In the past two weeks, reports have also surfaced that the Jazz are insisting that the Bulls’ Patrick Williams and the Hawks’ De’Andre Hunter be included in any deal. As expected, this turned out to be sticking points as the teams were not quick to let go of their young wings full of potential.

In fact, before the draft, The Athletic’s Sam Amick shared that Atlanta really wasn’t interested in Gobert.

As is often the case in the NBA, it is crucial that we consider the narrative framing of all reports. For example, who, why and what are important questions to break down for such reports in order to break through the surface message that often serves to distract.

If the sticking point on a Jazz-Hawks deal was in fact Hunter, it’s in Atlanta’s best interest to present themselves as not needing Rudy. Unfortunately for jazz fans, Utah pushed their hand too hard. It’s well known that the franchise is eager to get their star center back, although it’s true that they’re ultimately willing to retain him without a proper deal.

Atlanta also overestimates its love for Capela, whose struggles and health over the past year have been well documented. John Collins was also rumored in the deal and was a featured member of trade rumors for over two seasons.

In summary, the report may be true on the surface. At Utah’s asking price, Atlanta isn’t interested at all. But for a different price, maybe the Hawks are interested again.

In fact, a deal with the Hawks (as unlikely as that may be) is even MORE likely to happen following the NBA draft, where the Atlanta Hawks selected AJ Griffin with their 16th pick.

AJ Griffin selected 16th by the Atlanta Hawks in last Thursday’s NBA Draft
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The trade packages for Rudy Gobert without De’Andre Hunter seemed to be structured around Collins + Capela + # 16. Before the draft, this package looked like a bargain for the future Hall of Famer.

In the days leading up to the draft, it looked like the No.16 had put a team in the running to select Tari Eason, Ochai Agbaji and Mark Williams. Utah certainly didn’t think those prospects filled the void left without including Hunter.

However, AJ Griffin was a consensus top-10 pick in the fictional drafts, with some expecting him to reach #6. With him dropping to 16th overall, Atlanta’s offer of Collins + #16 and whoever they want for unnamed De’Andre Hunter’s remaining salary looks much more valuable than it did two days ago.

There’s a chance that negotiations will resume, and AJ Griffin’s name and face in the deal instead of a #16 summary could grease the wheels of a deal.

Let’s quickly talk about AJ Griffin. Because he was mocked in the top 10, most jazz fans probably didn’t focus on his draft lineup and didn’t get as much national publicity since he was outside of a top 3. -5 concentrate.

AJ Griffin is a 6-foot-6, 222-pound forward from Duke University. His wingspan extends to 7’0” and will only be 19 at the start of the season. Interestingly, he is the son of current Utah Jazz head coach candidate Adrian Griffin.

He was one of ESPN’s top 30 recruits out of high school, but whose rankings suffered after playing only freshman and junior due to knee problems. He landed on a stacked roster from Duke and was featured behind first overall pick Paolo Banchero and alongside other picks in this draft Mark Williams, Wendell Moore Jr. and Trevor Keels.

Griffin’s per-game stats at Duke won’t blow your mind: 10.4 pts, 3.9 rbs, 1.0 ast. What stands out is his 63% true shot, .537 3AP rate, and 18.8% USG rate. If you compare the numbers per possession to similar players in the draft, it comes out

AJ Griffin by 100 poss numbers vs similar picks

Player PLS RBS AST STL noir TOV
Player PLS RBS AST STL noir TOV
Benoit Mathurin 30 9.5 4.3 1.6 0.5 3
Johnny Davis 34.5 14.4 3.7 2 1.3 4
Jalen Williams 28.9 7.1 6.7 1.9 0.9 3.4
Ochai Agbaji 30.8 8.3 2.6 1.5 0.9 3.4
Dalen Terry 15.9 9.6 7.7 2.5 0.6 2.7
AJ Griffin 25.4 9.6 2.4 1.3 1.4 1.6

Basketball Reference Data

Its role was very defined: to space the floor. As the detailed video above shows, he was arguably the best shooter in the draft: 45% on nearly 160 attempts. He made 79% of his 53 free throw attempts, which supports his ability. Its mechanics and shape don’t raise any red flags.

Take a look at his shooting chart:

AJ Griffin Shooting Chart

AJ Griffin Shot Chart at Duke
Data courtesy of Dominic Samangy

Given his limited role at Duke, a key question is whether he’s “just a shooter.” It is important for a player who is not shooting to be active in some other way.

Watching a very short amount of movies, Griffin seems active and defensively engaged, but lacks the instinct and discipline to create a consistent impact.

Using his game log data, we can run a basic linear regression to assess Griffin’s impact under certain conditions:

Not Featured in Offense (aka: Don’t Get Shot)

Rebounding: We see evidence to suggest that Griffin rebounds less when he doesn’t have enough scoring chances (TRB ~ TSA, coef: 0.262, p-val: 0.001).

Involve others: We see no evidence that Griffin is less likely to prepare his teammates when not receiving shots (AST ~ TSA, coef: 0, p-val: 0.992).

Defensive Aggressiveness: We see no evidence that Griffin looks to steal or blocks less when he has no scoring opportunities (STL+BLK ~ TSA, coef: 0.065, p-val: 0.168).

Recklessness: We see no evidence that Griffin commits more turnovers when not presented in the offense (TOV ~ TSA, coef = 0.08665, p-val: 0.006).

Poor Shooting Nights (aka: Not Taking Pictures)

Rebounding: We see no evidence that Griffin rebounds less when he misses or takes shots (TRB ~ TS%, coef: 0.942, p-val: 0.414).

Involve Others: We see no evidence that Griffin gets tunnel vision when shooting or not shooting (AST ~ TS%, coef: 0.13, p-val: 0.825).

Defensive Aggressiveness: We see no evidence that Griffin is becoming less aggressive on the ball, not shooting (STL+BLK ~ TS%, coef: 0.8752, p-val: 0.162).

Recklessness: We see no evidence that Griffin loses focus and commits more turnovers when he misses shots (TOV ~ TS%, coef = 0.2819, p-val: 0.516).

After a little film and game log analysis, we should feel pretty good that Griffin’s abilities have been overshadowed but that he’s a good shooter who doesn’t really let the rest of his game be dictated by his skill level. involvement or if his shooting falls.

Finally, take a look at its radar chart:

AJ Griffin Radar Map

AJ Griffin radar map at Duke
Data courtesy of Dominic Samangy

Based on these results, he profiles himself as having similar play to the following NBA forwards:

Kelly Oubre Jr.: 92.4%

Devin Vasell: 87.8%

Norman Powell: 85.9%

OG Anunoby: 85.8%


After breaking down the type of game AJ Griffin has, is he the type of player Utah might want and would make them demand De’Andre Hunter in a deal with Atlanta?

It is very possible. He is an extremely young sniper. Wasn’t featured at Duke but has comparable volume-adjusted stats, as players were picked up to 6th place. He has an NBA ready body and has the potential to see further growth.

Ultimately, the concern that saw him fall to No. 16 was the knees that kept him out of high school sophomores and seniors. Sounds like Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets. It could be a real hit, a pretty ideal companion for Donovan Mitchell and still young enough to piggyback on a rebuild if it were to happen.

The Jazz should definitely be willing to forgo Hunter’s inclusion for AJ Griffin and other concessions (next year’s 1st inclusion via CHA, Jalen Johnson and/or Kevin Huerter).

The next step in this whole process is accessing free will, the next logical path for trade, as the rest of the league begins to take shape in the wake of the drat. We’ll see if the rumors heat up again after Atlanta turned the No. 16 pick into AJ Griffin.

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