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Duke basketball product earns first career start for Hawks

AJ Griffin has played 66 minutes between the Atlanta Hawks' past two games.
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After going No. 16 overall at the 2022 NBA Draft, Duke basketball one-and-done AJ Griffin didn't play much across the Atlanta Hawks' first nine games this season. But in their eight outings since, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound chiseled forward has received double-digit minutes every time.

And within the past week, Griffin has emerged as a full-fledged consistent weapon for the Hawks (10-7).

On Saturday, the mere 19-year-old, the third-youngest player in the NBA, scored eight of Atlanta's 13 points in overtime and 17 altogether, including his buzzer-beating game-winner in the team's 124-122 home victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Then on Monday night, AJ Griffin drew the well-deserved first start of his career while the Hawks' regular starter at his position, De'Andre Hunter, sat out due to an illness. Although Atlanta wound up with a 114-102 road loss at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers (11-6), the NBA Blue Devil finished with an impressive stat line.

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Griffin logged 36 minutes, the second most on his squad, signaling head coach Nate McMillan's trust in the rookie's abilities. He totaled 17 points, two rebounds, one assist, and three steals while shooting 7-for-11 from the field and 3-for-6 beyond the arc.

Long story short, AJ Griffin's recent performances are threatening the playing time of a few other young forwards on the Atlanta Hawks roster, including another former Duke basketball talent, Jalen Johnson, who has yet to draw a start in his two NBA seasons.

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