The Atlanta Hawks are officially wasting this sophomore's season

The Atlanta Hawks are again in the throes of another wasted season which is why it is so disappointing that they are wasting the sophomore season of AJ Griffin.
Oct 14, 2023; College Park, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward AJ Griffin (14) saves ball from
Oct 14, 2023; College Park, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward AJ Griffin (14) saves ball from / Jordan Godfree-USA TODAY Sports

When teams get to the All-Star break it is a good time to reflect on the season to date. It is the unofficial halfway point of the season, although there are less than half the games of the season to go. With the exception of the season where the Atlanta Hawks (24-31) fired Lloyd Pierce and hired Nate McMillan, it is very hard to come back from a poor start in the last 30 or so games.

Still, the sample size of the first half of the season is usually enough to assess where the team is heading and what is required for each player to move forward. The problem is that the Hawks do not have all the data that they need to move forward on one player.

That player is none other than their sophomore AJ Griffin. The 16th pick in the 2022 NBA draft has gone from being a solid part of the rotation last season to a player at the end of the bench, barely getting any court time, despite being a truly gifted shooter from beyond the arc.

The Atlanta Hawks are wasting the sophomore season of AJ Griffin

One of the strangest decisions of the Hawks for this season is that they are not playing AJ Griffin. They are missing out on developing the second year player during a crucial part of his career. Part of the reason that they are not playing the youngster is that he is struggling on the defensive end.

I am not sure which stats the Hawks coaching staff is looking at. But the Hawks are last in pretty much every defensive category, Developing Griffin may help the defensive stats of the Hawks as he has always been a willing participant on the defensive end, even though he does get a little lost at that end of the floor.

Griffin played 72 games last year, averaging 8.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 0.6 steals in 19.5 minutes per game. These are solid numbers for a rookie on a team that does not like to play their less experienced squad members. However, this season the Hawks coaching staff have just not played Griffin.

For the first half of the season the sophomore has played just 18 games. In that time he has averaged 2.1 points, and 0.8 rebounds in only 7,3 minutes per game. Given how the Hawks have been playing, it is really hard to fathom why they are not trying to develop the youngster as a part of the team's future core.

Griffin has regressed in almost every measurable stat in basketball. Given that he was shooting at 39.0 percent from behind the 3-point line in his rookie season and is now shooting at 27.3 percent from behind the line, this appears to be a complete waste of talent.

If the Hawks do not change the trajectory of Griffin's season, then they are missing an opportunity to develop one of their future core players. This is not just a problem this season, but it is going to impact the team for future seasons as well.

The Hawks need to do better with their younger players, Kobe Bufkin included. The fact that they have assigned Griffin to the G League is another step backward for the season.