3 Hawks whose value is on the rise, 2 who are fading fast

Atlanta Hawks, Jalen Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks, Jalen Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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Atlanta Hawks, AJ Griffin
Atlanta Hawks, AJ Griffin. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Godfree-USA TODAY Sports /

2. Faller: AJ Griffin

While Johnson has turned his early experience around for the better, second-year swingman AJ Griffin has gone the other way. Selected with the No. 16 overall pick last season, Griffin burst onto the scene averaging 8.9 points and knocking down 39% of his long-distance looks as a rookie, notching his place in history along the way.

This season, he is shooting 50% from deep. But he is averaging just 3.4 points in his nine minutes per game. Most of his time has come at the end of quarters or in garbage time.

He has been a DNP-CD in each of the last two games.

It is a trend that began last season after head coach Quin Snyder took over, with Griffin going from seeing more than 20 minutes per game to fewer than 17 minutes per game after the head coach’s arrival.

Things seemed to hit a nadir in the postseason as Griffin was out of the rotation in the Hawks’ first-round series versus the Boston Celtics despite what was a historic campaign shooting the ball from three which they have struggled to do as a unit. After ranking 28th in attempts and 21st in efficiency last season, the Hawks rank 15th in attempts this season.

They are still 21st in efficiency, though, making Griffin’s skillset a valuable one on paper. But Griffin has posted a negative plus-minus in four of his five appearances this season.

He will just have to bide his time as Johnson did.

The payoff could be big for him and the Hawks in the long run because he has shown a diverse offensive game and has always been NBA-ready physically. It just has to come together in the more nuanced aspects.