NBA Draft menu can be overwhelming, keep it simple with Duke’s AJ Griffin and Mark Williams :: WRALSportsFan.com


The NBA draft can be overwhelming. It’s like looking at a Cheesecake Factory menu where every dish is mediocre to poor instead of transcendent to incomparable. It’s the truth about the drafts that no one likes to admit when they fill out their fictional drafts inspired by the band. Most of these prospects don’t work no matter how much we talk about their closing speed and ball potential.

As a Providence College alumnus who frequented the Cheesecake Factory at Providence Place Mall for many dates, I have special expertise in how to handle a problem like the draft: KEEP IT SIMPLE (The first date with my wife was actually at the hip Providence Place Mall joint called Fire and Ice where you assembled a bowl of raw ingredients for a hibachi chef in front of you, that’s a story and an analogy for another time).

Obviously, the Filet Mignon is going to be good at Cheesecake Factory and the Steak Diane, oh the Steak Diane (Medallions of steak covered in black peppercorns and a rich mushroom wine sauce is the menu description). But these are the best choices, not everyone can afford them. My “keep it simple” advice is for the regular guy or girl on a date, i.e. the mid to late lottery teams. Sure, Thai Coconut Lime Chicken sounds great, but you’re not sure if your stomach can handle that. Chicken parmesan pizza style, what’s that? I don’t know, but are you sure you want to bypass a safer option to find out?

This is where two Duke prospects come in: AJ Griffin and Mark Williams. They may not have the highest perks or intrigue, but they can provide a certifiable skill. Griffin can shoot. 44.7% from three to be precise, one of the best in the NCAA. Williams can block shots, protect the rim and dunk. The man can dunk, but he’s also shot 72.7% from the free-throw line, suggesting there’s a usable jumper too.

“Mark has been a joy to coach, an incredible year,” Duke associate head coach Chris Carrawell said of Williams. “He played in a weak basketball league in Virginia for three years [in high school] then transferred to IMG [Academy]. His best basketball is a header from him. He really is still young. I believe it’s going to be a lottery pick. He should be a starter in the NBA for a long time, be a good player and make a lot of money and should be able to take me to a few dinners.”

A few dinners at an establishment named after a rich and scrumptious dessert that also serves every kind of food you could possibly dream of? Williams is your spaghetti and meatballs. It’s not fancy, but you really can’t go wrong. Fresh or leftover, it’s always ready to be delivered and won’t leave you hungry. Williams can step in now and play valuable minutes at five. That’s why he’s been linked with the Charlotte Hornets who have caps at No. 13 and No. 15. Charlotte was one of the teams he did private training for and he said on Monday everything went well. . Pair Williams with LaMelo Ball and you have yourself a delicious starter.

“Just a guy that’s going to run the floor, catch lobs, protect the rim,” Williams said. “[I] want to win.”

Want wings? How about some Buffalo chicken with a side of blue cheese. Every bar menu must have it, it is a fundamental element. They started as a niche regional food and have become a national sensation that literally everyone eats. In the NBA, it’s the three-point shot. It was a novelty, now it is necessary for survival.

If you write after the first three choices, you have no idea what you’re getting. Jaden Ivey? A ton of upside, but the world gives us a lot of six-foot-four shooting creation guards. He could be just another guy. Shaedon Sharpe? Again, but he mysteriously didn’t play his first season at Kentucky. Can your franchise really afford a full swing and miss the top 10? This is where AJ Griffin comes in. He’s from the White Plains area, not Buffalo, but close enough.

NBA_Draft_Wings_Basketball_93615

The thing about Griffin is that it could be more than just an appetizer. It could directly be Buffalo Wild Wings. The type of player you are building your franchise around. He is six foot six with long arms and a full frame. It flashed the creation of shots and the ability to support games. UNC fans are still traumatized by his ten straight points to start the second half of Duke’s 87-67 victory at Chapel Hill. Griffin had a career-high 27 points.

With Griffin, there are injury issues. He suffered a dislocated left knee during his freshman year of high school and sprained his right knee before his freshman season at Duke. But as a person, it’s a home run. His dad Adrian Griffin played in the NBA and is currently an assistant for the Toronto Raptors, so you know he understands what he’s about to face. Griffin is also a devout Christian, he even held Bible studies with his teammates at Duke.

“He’s the best boy in the world,” Carrawell said. “We have a game on Saturday, Bible study on Friday night. Always smiling even when there’s no reason to smile, always with a smile on your face. Just a handsome kid.”

There is a maturity in the way Griffin speaks and behaves. If you write it down, you know you won’t have to worry about who you bring into your organization.

“I have my goals of winning rookie of the year,” Griffin said Monday. “Having these goals of being the best player I can be this first year.”

So go ahead, write to impress if you want to, but know the risks and do your research. You don’t want to order Ahi Tuna Salad on your date without knowing that Ahi Tuna is almost entirely raw. (Yes I did it). When in doubt, keep it simple. Your stomach and your fans will thank you.


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