The Atlanta Hawks did not play their rookies a huge amount in the first of the historic Abu Dhabi games, However, that changed in the second game where both played meaningful minutes, hitting the floor for some solid game time in the first period and then beyond.
Both players had different roles but while we are not totally comparing apples with apples but how they went within their roles is what is being measured. To put it into further context, Tyrese Martin played around nine minutes in the first game, whereas AJ Griffin only played one minute.
So, Martin helped the team because he was a secondary playmaker but also penetrated the paint in an effort to break down the defense. He went 2-of-9 from the floor, including 0-of-3 from deep. He did collect three rebounds and an assist but had a minus-nine impact on the box score. He was the only fully contracted player who had a minus impact on the box score.
Why AJ Griffin was the better-performed rookie for the Atlanta Hawks.
Griffin looked so much better in his role than Martin, simply because this is the game that he has played his entire career. He took a pass from Young on a curl play and shot the ball like he had been in the league for five years. He actually made two of these plays in the first half and looked good doing them.
The good news is that Griffin can also create for himself, after being run off the 3-point line he made a good baseline drive and was able to finish through contact. He is more than just a floor-spacer. Still, he did that role well, going 3-of-5 from beyond the arc for the game.
He also was a solid piece of the Hawks’ defense when he was on the court. He did get lost on one defensive rotation but that was in the first period. The rest of the game he was able to stick to his assignment and has the look of a solid bench piece for the Hawks. He should be able to buck the trend of the Hawks and Nate McMillan who do not play rookies much.