Adrian Griffin didn’t have the typical journey to the NBA but he proved why he should be there once he made it. Griffin hasn’t stepped away from the NBA since he got there, as he’s continued his time in the league as a coach for various teams.
Griffin attended Seton Hall University and played on the basketball team.
In his first year at Seton, he was regulated to the bench and only started in one of the 35 games played that season. Due to his limited playing time his first-year numbers weren’t that eye-popping, as he averaged 3.4 points per game (PPG), 3.5 rebounds per game (RPG), 0.8 assists per game (APG), 0.8 steals per game (SPG), and 0.1 blocks per game (BPG) for the season. The team dominated in conference play, having accumulated a Big East conference record of 14-4, finished first in their conference, were crowned regular-season champion, conference tournament champion, and qualified for the NCAA tournament. Seton entered March Madness as the No. 2 seed in the Southeast Region. They defeated No. 15 ranked, Tennesse State University, in the first round. In the following round, the team fell to No. 7 ranked, Western Kentucky University. Seton finished the season 28-7.
Griffin was promoted to a starter in his second year on the team, starting in all 30 games played. All of his numbers went up for the season as he averaged 9.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.4 SPG, and 0.6 BPG. The team didn’t have as much luck as the previous year in conference play, racking up a losing record of 8-10, but still managed to qualify for the NCAA tournament. They entered March Madness as the No. 10 seed in the Southeast but didn’t last long as they were quickly eliminated in the first round by the No. 7 seed, Michigan State University. Seton still managed to finish off the season with a winning record of 17-13.
Griffin continued to improve in his junior year, averaging 15.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 2.8 APG, 2.2 SPG, and 0.7 BPG for the season, while starting in all 30 games. The team again didn’t do well in conference play, going 7-11 against conference teams, and missed out on the NCAA tournament. The team finished the overall season with a winning record of 16-14. Griffin was recognized for his good season and was named to the All-Big East third-team.
Griffin’s senior year was the best year in his basketball career statistically. He averaged 19.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.1 APG, 2.5 SPG, and 0.6 BPG while starting in all 28 games. The team had another losing season in conference play, going 7-11 and missing out on the NCAA tournament again. They ended their season with a losing record of 12-16. Even though his team didn’t do that well, Griffin was still honored for his great season. He was named to the All-Big East second-team and won the Haggerty Award, an award given to the All-New York Metropolitan NCAA Division I men’s college basketball player of the year.
Road to the NBA
Griffin went undrafted in the 1996 NBA Draft. He began to play in different leagues in the United States and even overseas in Europe.
In 1996 he joined the Long Island Surf of the United States Basketball League (USBL). From 1998-99 he played for the Atlantic City Seagulls of the USBL. In 1998, he was named USBL playoff MVP. The following year, he repeated as USBL playoff MVP, and was named USBL Player of the Year.
In 1996, he also joined Connecticut Pride of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA). He earned many awards and achievements in his time with the Pride. He was named to the CBA All-Rookie first-team in his first year with the team. The following year he was named to the All-CBA first-team and the CBA All-Defensive team. He continued to dominate the CBA in 1999, when he again was named to the All-CBA first-team and the CBA All-Defensive team. That same year he was named CBA MVP, CBA Finals MVP, and his team won the CBA Championship.
1998 was a busy year for Griffin, aside from playing in the USBL and CBA that year, he also played overseas for the Roseto Sharks in the Italian Basketball League.
Welcome to the NBA
Griffin’s NBA dream finally came true in 1999 when he signed with the Boston Celtics before the 1999-00 season. He played two years in Boston, mainly coming off the bench in his 116 appearances with the team. In his two seasons with the Celtics, Griffin averaged 5.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.8 APG, and 1.2 SPG while starting in 47 games with the team, all in his rookie season.
Griffin Joins the Mavericks
Griffin signed as a free agent with the Dallas Mavericks during the 2001 offseason. His first year on the Mavs was his best season in the NBA. Griffin averaged 7.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.8 APG, and 1.3 SPG. He started in 34 of his 58 games played, being used primarily as a starter in Dallas. The Mavs finished the 2001-02 season with a 57-25 record and clinched the fourth seed in the Western Conference. The team swept the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the playoffs. Dallas was then eliminated in five games by the Sacrament Kings. Griffin took part in four playoff games and started one of them, while putting up 5.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.0 APG, and 0.5 SPG.
Griffin continued to be used as a starter the following season, starting in 48 of his 74 games played. His productivity took a bit of a dip as he averaged 4.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, and 1.0 SPG for the season. The Mavericks had another successful season, going 60-22 for the season and clinching the third seed in the West. They took down the Portland Trailblazers in a hard-fought seven-game series. The Mavs then took down the Kings in another grueling seven-game series. Dallas’ playoff journey ended in the Western Conference Finals, when they lost in six games to their rivals, the San Antonio Spurs. Griffin averaged 2.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 0.5 APG, and 0.3 SPG, while starting in two of the 15 playoff games he was part of.
Griffin Ventures the NBA
During the 2003 offseason, Griffin signed as a free agent with the Houston Rockets. He spent a year with the Rockets. In his single season in Houston Griffin averaged 0.6 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.5 APG, and 0.4 SPG. He got very limited playing time with the Rockets, he played in just 19 games, started one of them, and averaged 7.0 minutes per game (MPG).
The following offseason, Griffin was traded to the Chicago Bulls. He got more playing time with the Bulls than he did with the Rockets, starting in one out of 69 games played with the team, and playing 9.7 MPG. As part of the Bulls, Griffin averaged 2.2 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.8 APG, and 0.6 SPG. They made the playoffs but were quickly eliminated in the first round by the Washington Wizards. Griffin came off the bench in five of the Bulls’ playoff games and averaged 6.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.8 APG, and 1.0 SPG in the series.
Return to Dallas
In November 2005, Griffin signed as a free agent with the Mavericks and continued where he left off with the team. He continued to be a starter for the Mavs, starting in 45 out of his 52 games played that season. In the 2005-06 season, he averaged 4.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.7 APG, and 1.0 SPG. The Mavericks had their best season in franchise history up to that point. They finished the season 60-22 and were the fourth seed in the West. They swept the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs. They then beat their foes, the Spurs, in seven games. They took down the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals in six games. After decades of trying to reach the Finals, the Mavericks finally made their first NBA Finals appearance in 2006, where they, unfortunately, fell to the Miami Heat in six games. Griffin started in eight out of the 20 playoff games he took part in. During the playoffs, he averaged 3.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.2 APG, and 0.8 SPG.
Final Years in the League
The following offseason Griffin returned to the Bulls via free agency. He spent a season and a half in Chicago where he was used as a role player. In his time on the Bulls, he averaged 2.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.1 APG, and 0.8 SPG, while starting in only three games out of 76. The Bulls made it to the second round of the playoffs in his full season with the team but they were eliminated in six games by the Pistons. Griffin made four very limited playoff appearances with the team, barely playing over 2.0 MPG. In his very limited playoff playing time, he managed to get 0.3 RPG and 0.3 SPG.
Halfway through the 2007-08 season, Griffin was traded to the Seattle Supersonics, which would be his last stop in his NBA journey. He came off the bench in 13 games with the Sonics and managed to put up 1.1 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 0.4 APG, and 0.4 SPG in his time with the team.
During the 2008 offseason, he was traded to the Bucks but never played with the team, making the 2007-08 NBA season his final year in the league.
Griffin’s years with the Mavericks were the best in his career when it came to his time in the NBA. Griffin got many opportunities to start while on the Mavericks and put up his best numbers while on the team. As part of the Mavs, Griffin averaged 5.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.6 APG, and 1.1 SPG. He got to show what he was really made of while on the Mavericks and even got to experience the NBA Finals with the team in 2006.
In 2008, he was hired onto the Milwaukee Bucks coaching staff, as an assistant coach, under head coach Scott Skiles. He spent two years there. In his first season as a Bucks assistant coach, the team missed the playoffs the first year with a losing record of 34-48. The following season, the Bucks made the playoffs with a 46-36 record, but were eliminated in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks.
The following season he took a job as an assistant coach for the Bulls under Tom Thibodeau. In his first season as an assistant coach, the Bulls finished the season 62-20 and made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals before losing in five games to the Miami Heat. The following year the Bulls went 50-16 for the season and made the playoffs but were quickly eliminated in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bulls continued to decline, going 45-37 in the 2012-13 season but they still managed to make it to the second round of the playoffs before getting eliminated by the Heat again. Chicago claimed a few more wins the following year and went 48-34 but fell to the Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs. In Griffin’s final year as an assistant coach, the Bulls went 50-32 and made the playoffs for a fifth straight year, however, they were eliminated in the second round by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He then spent the 2015-16 season as an assistant coach for the Orland Magic under head coach Skiles. In his lone season as a Magics assistant coach the team went 35-47 and missed out on the playoffs.
Griffin then took an assistant coaching job with the Oklahoma City Thunder before the 2016-17 NBA season and was part of head coach Billy Donovan’s coaching staff. The team finished the year 47-35 and was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Houston Rockets. The following year the team won one more game, going 48-34 for the season, but again were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, this time by the Utah Jazz.
During the 2018 offseason, Griffin was hired by the Toronto Raptors as the lead assistant coach under first-year head coach Nick Nurse. In his first season coaching in Toronto, Griffin finally earned his first championship ring after the team went 58-24 and won their first NBA championship after defeating the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. The Raptors’ championship win finally gave Griffin his first NBA championship ring.
During the 2019-20 season, the Raptors went 53-19 and were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics. The following year they had a big downfall, going 27-45 for the season, and completely missing out on the playoffs. The 2021-22 season was a bounce-back year for the Raptors, they went 48-34 and made their return to the playoffs, but they were quickly eliminated in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Griffin’s eldest son, Alan, played basketball at the University of Illinois and Syracuse University, before going undrafted in the 2021 NBA Draft. His younger son, Adrian Jr., played at Duke University before getting drafted 16th overall in the 2022 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks. His daughter, Aubrey, plays basketball at the University of Connecticut.
Griffin graduated from Seton Hall with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication. He obtained his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Griffin also earned his Doctorate Degree in Organizational Leadership at Concordia University Chicago.
In 2010, Griffin was inducted into the Seton Hall Athletics Hall of Fame.
Griffin’s best seasons came during his college years, but he still established himself in the NBA and played in the league for almost a decade. He was rewarded for his basketball abilities with various awards and honors in college, overseas, and in the NBA. Griffin has continued to grow his basketball legacy, now as an NBA assistant coach. His leadership and mentoring skills helped a young Raptors team get to the NBA Finals and win the NBA championship. In the end, he might be remembered more for his coaching years than his playing years, since his time as a coach has been just as impressive as his time as a player.