Grade the Trade: Rockets acquire AJ Griffin at minimal cost

AJ Griffin is the newest member of the Houston Rockets
AJ Griffin is the newest member of the Houston Rockets / James Gilbert/GettyImages

The Houston Rockets needed to add shooting this summer. Selecting Reed Sheppard with the third overall pick was probably enough for some.

Sheppard was the best shooter in this class by a considerable margin. That's enough, right?

Apparently not. The Rockets followed that move up by acquiring AJ Griffin from the Atlanta Hawks for a bag of peanuts (the 44th overall pick).

How did this happen?

Houston Rockets take on reclamation project

A combination of factors likely led to the Hawks abandoning Griffin.

For starters, he's injury-prone. Griffin managed just 20 games in 2023-24. This was a concern when he was coming out of college, and so far, that concern has been warranted.

Yet, even when Griffin was healthy, he managed just 8.6 minutes per game under new Head Coach Quinn Snyder. That's a far cry from the 19.5 minutes per game he found during his 2022-23 rookie campaign. His production - and possibly his rhythm - suffered accordingly. Griffin shot 39.0% from long-range as a rookie, and 25.6% as a sophomore.

Is he damaged goods?

Houston Rockets make high-value trade

Who knows?

Here's what we do know - Griffin was in serious consideration as a lottery pick in 2022. If not for concerns about his durability, he'd likely have landed in the top 10.

You rarely find players like that with the 44th pick. Taking a gamble on Griffin has more upside than selecting anyone available at that stage of the draft.

It's also worth noting that the Rockets were able to absorb Griffin into the trade exception they created when they traded Kevin Porter Jr. Getting any value for the disgraced guard is masterful work by Rafael Stone.

We have to give this deal a perfect grade. We love everything about it. Some fans will suggest that the Rockets are logjammed. They'll have a point.

Oh no! Too much young talent! You've heard of rich people problems. This is the NBA equivalent of being unable to decide which private jet to purchase. The Rockets added a lottery-level talent at almost zero cost.

That's an A+ move by any standard - and it doesn't hurt that Griffin can shoot.

Grade: A+