The Atlanta Hawks selected AJ Griffin from Duke with the 16th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft on Thursday night. Atlanta also acquired the draft rights to the 51st pick, Tyrese Martin from UConn, and cash considerations from Golden State in exchange for the draft rights to Ryan Rollins, the 44th pick.
Griffin appeared in 39 games (25 starts) during his freshman season at Duke, averaging 10.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 24.0 minutes per game, helping to lead the Blue Devils to their 20th ACC regular season title in program history, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and the team’s 17th Final Four appearance (.493 FG%, .447 3FG%, .792 FT%).
“First, he’s a tremendous character guy,” said Hawks Assistant General Manager Landry Fields. “He’s got a great body. He has the ability to put the ball on the floor, which might be a little underrated. Hopefully, he can get out there on the defensive end and impose his will with the stature that he has. That’s something that we really want to add to our mix here. He’s going to put his best foot forward. He’s going to add a great culture piece to our locker room and on top of that, he’s got game.”
An Honorable Mention All-ACC and a member of the ACC All-Freshman Team, Griffin’s .447 clip from three-point territory ranked fifth in Duke history and second by a Blue Devil freshman. He scored 10-or-more points in 23 of his 39 games, including five games of 20-or-more. The 6-6 forward poured in a career-high 27 points on 11-17 shooting from the floor, including a 3-6 mark from deep, in an 87-67 win over rival North Carolina on Feb. 5. His 27 points tied the fourth-most points by a Blue Devil in their first Duke-UNC game. In a 74-65 victory against Louisville on Jan. 29, Griffin shot a perfect 5-5 (1.000 3FG%) from the three-point line, marking the highest three-point percentage by a Duke freshman on a minimum five attempts.
Prior to arriving at Duke, Griffin, a five-star small forward out of Archbishop Stepinac in White Plains, New York, was ranked as the No. 9 overall player in ESPN 100’s rankings for the class of 2021, as well as the No. 1 player in the state of New York and the No. 1 small forward in the ESPN 100. He won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2019 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, notching 13.5 points and a team-high 3.3 steals in six contests. Griffin’s father, Adrian Griffin, played in the NBA for 10 seasons and is currently an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors.
Martin saw action in 29 games (all starts) for UConn during the 2021-22 campaign, tallying 13.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 32.1 minutes (.449 FG%, .430 3FG%, .689 FT%).
“What an unbelievable story,” said Fields. “Tyrese is another guy, from a character and values standpoint, that brings what we want to build here. We couldn’t be more excited. He’s a tough kid. He brings defense and he’s also versatile as a wing.”
The 6-6 guard transferred to UConn following a two-year stint at Rhode Island (2018-20). In his two seasons suiting up for UConn, the Huskies made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament (2021, 2022), punching their ticket in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2011 and 2012. During his time at UConn, Martin appeared in 51 games (50 starts), averaging 12.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 31.2 minutes (.446 FG%, .393 3FG%, .682 FT%). He was named to the 2022 Big East All-Tournament Team and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association District I All-District Team.
Throughout his four-year collegiate career, Martin saw action in 114 games (99 starts), notching 11.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 30.8 minutes (.435 FG%, .346 3FG%, .670 FT%). A native of Allentown, Pennsylvania, he attended William Allen High School, finishing with 1,120 career points. Following high school, Martin attended Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Virginia, leading the team to a 32-4 record during the 2017-18 season.