From “one-and-done” prospects to the record-low number of seniors in the NBA draft, basketball has increasingly become fixated on youth. However, while they may not be flashy five-star recruits, college basketball transfers have consistently proven that they can play important roles on contending NCAA teams, allowing them to become legitimate NBA prospects. One player who fits this mold is Syracuse small forward Alan Griffin.
Alan Griffin Breakdown
Alan Griffin is a lights-out shooter. Despite playing for an Illinois team that was perhaps the worst three-point shooting team in the Big 10, Griffin shot a pristine 41.6 percent from three, along with a 61.5 effective field goal percentage that ranked third in the conference. More impressively, his free throw percentage was an elite 86.1 percent, indicating that his shot will likely translate to the next level. In seven games this year, he is shooting 37.5 percent from three, with a 55.2 effective field goal percentage and a free throw percentage of 89.5 percent. He takes a remarkable 11 threes per 100 possessions, and his total player efficiency has remained at 3.1 PORPAGATU! for the past two seasons.
While Griffin’s numbers have dipped this year for Syracuse, this can largely be attributed to his increased role, as Jim Boeheim is known for running a considerable amount of offense through the small forward position. As a result, Griffin’s usage rate has increased from his Illinois days, and he’s also playing many more minutes per game. This increased role has allowed him to flash his intriguing playmaking ability, as he has an assist percentage of 17.7 percent. Griffin has also somehow managed to increase his free throw percentage, ranking second in the Atlantic Coast Conference among qualified players. Additionally, Griffin has immensely improved in regards to finishing: he has already matched his dunk total from last year, and he’s 10 for 14 at the rim.
His offense is certainly elite, but Griffin’s defense can really turn a game completely around. Just look at this clutch play against Buffalo.
With the game on the line, Griffin used his length and agility to block the would-be game-winning shot. This is one of the best chase-down blocks you’ll ever see, and it’s an encapsulation of Griffin’s defensive potential. He is surprisingly good on the boards, averaging an outstanding 17.1 defensive rebounding percentage both last year and this year. You don’t really see many 3&D guys do this, which is a testament to his stunning versatility. Griffin’s overall defensive numbers have remained excellent, as he has posted a defensive rating of 87.6 and a 4.2 D-PORPAG. None of the players above him, however, are even close to the level of shooting that he displays. Griffin’s explosiveness and insane vertical should allow him to continue his defensive prowess in the NBA.
With his combination of length, shooting, and playmaking, Griffin is perhaps the biggest reason that the Orange are sitting at 6-1. Assuming that his development continues, Syracuse should be considered one of the favorites to win the ACC, particularly given the vulnerability of conference powerhouses North Carolina, Duke, and Virginia. It’ll be interesting to see how Griffin reacts to the pressure, especially if in the high-stakes NCAA tournament. Does he have what it takes to spearhead a quintessential Cinderella run for Jim Boeheim’s perpetually underrated Syracuse squad?
For some reason, Griffin is getting very little hype right now, and he seemingly isn’t on anyone’s draft board. I’m not sure he even declares for the draft this year. That being said, if he continues his progress, he will immensely improve his draft position.
Overall, I believe that Alan Griffin has what it takes to be a game-changer at the NCAA and NBA levels. I see him as a player akin to Chicago Bulls shooting forward Denzel Valentine or Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and I expect NBA teams to put him on their draft boards over the next couple of months. Don’t be surprised if Alan Griffin is the steal of the 2021 NBA Draft; with his versatile skill set, the sky’s the limit.
Embed from Getty Images