As the Zoom screen flashed on, new Hawks wing AJ Griffin grinned back. The 18-year-old seemed breathless as he processed all that had unfolded minutes before when he was selected by Atlanta with the 16th overall pick in the NBA draft Thursday.

His dreams were now even closer to being a reality.

“You know I just found out tonight that I was gonna be drafted by (the Hawks) and I’m so excited man,” Griffin said via a Zoom call. “Words can’t even explain how I feel and now I’m just ready to get to work.”

ExploreThe AJC's complete coverage on the Hawks

Griffin had a solid season with the Duke Blue Devils, where he helped to navigate the team to a Final Four appearance. He averaged 10.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and one assist in his only college season.

He has a pure shooting stroke and has potential as a high-volume shooter, after knocking down nearly 45% of his 4.8 3-point attempts per game. He’s developed a good rotation on his shot, as well as remaining down and in position, which makes it easier for him to make his jumper off the catch.

Griffin also isn’t afraid to attack defenses and has shown a solid read of the game that allows him to keep finding a second option when his first becomes unavailable.

While he’s confident in the skills he will bring to the Hawks, he understands that there is still room for improvement.

“I think my game, fits perfect,” Griffin said. “Just going into this next level, you know, be able to play with other versatile guys, I’m just ready. Whatever coach wants me to play, I’m ready. I can’t wait. And I just feel like (I) just got so much to just improve and work on. Words can’t explain how much I’m just ready to get to work.”

That work ethic and readiness did not come as a surprise to Hawks general manager Landry Fields and the rest of the organization. The team identified Griffin early in their scouting process and kept an eye on him throughout the last year. The Hawks also spoke with the young wing during last month’s scouting combine and got a sense of who he is.

“Well, we’ve been covering him all year,” Fields said following the draft. “And he’s a guy that we had highly rated, didn’t really think he would be there at 16. We had a chance to speak with him in Chicago too, had a great interview, just about the right stuff, values and we’re going after the character, the hard work, the work ethic that he has.

“We’re very excited about what he can bring, from his versatility to everything from a personality standpoint. We couldn’t be happier about having him. We’re really glad.”

Defensively, Griffin can guard multiple positions and could give the Hawks a solid perimeter defender as the team looks to develop its defensive identity.

Like Griffin, the Hawks aren’t afraid of the areas where he will need to develop. Atlanta will continue to monitor how Griffin progresses in their system and grows into his body.

“So we’ll see,” Fields said. “Right now for where we have him at he’s still got some development to do as most rookies do, and we’ll bring him along as always and so we’ll see in time.”

Fields and the rest of the Hawks’ front office want to see Griffin continue to improve on his ability to attack the rim and continue to become a versatile scorer. The first-year Hawks general manager said that Griffin displayed flashes of it while at Duke and now he’d like to see him continue to tap into that.

“For him, I think what’s underrated is his handle ability,” Fields said. “His ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays for himself. You didn’t see that a lot at Duke but throughout the pre-draft process, watching him in his pro day, going back and seeing some of the flashes when he was at Duke, that’s there.

“So if he can continue to develop that, he really opens up an arsenal for versatility for himself and for what we can do with our team. When the defense comes along and utilizes that body and the wingspan, the sky’s the limit for that kid.”

The White Plains, N.Y. native comes to the Hawks from an NBA family. His father Adrian Griffin played 10 seasons in the NBA and is now an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors.

Combined ShapeCaption
Connecticut's Tyrese Martin (4) dribbled against Villanova during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinal round of the Big East conference tournament Friday, March 11, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Credit: AP

Connecticut's Tyrese Martin (4) dribbled against Villanova during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinal round of the Big East conference tournament Friday, March 11, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Connecticut's Tyrese Martin (4) dribbled against Villanova during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinal round of the Big East conference tournament Friday, March 11, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Not only did the Hawks take Griffin, they also added another guard who they hope to see develop into a consistent shooter. With pick No. 51, the Hawks selected Connecticut’s Tyrese Martin after trading pick No. 44 to the Warriors for $2 million.

The 23-year-old guard comes to Atlanta after two years with the Huskies. He averaged 13.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists in his senior season, which earned him a place on the Big East All-Tournament Team.

The 6-6 guard is a solid shooter who knocked down 43% of his 3-pointers and is a solid athlete with a solid motor that allows him to take advantage of off-ball opportunities.

“What an unbelievable story. ... Another guy that from a character-value standpoint and what we want to build here, we couldn’t be more excited,” Fields said. “Him and AJ are top notch in that regard. Tough kid, brings defense, (is) also versatile as a wing, can shoot the ball. Hopefully we can continue to see that be consistent as we continue on here.”