We are 1 week away from knowing exactly which picks the Atlanta Hawks will receive in this draft. Lets take a stab at the players on the Hawks radar in the top 5 of this years draft. I will have 2 tiers in the top 5. 1 is Zion, who is the obvious pick if available, the rest tier 2. I will give a draft chance % for each of the players based on likely hood of landing where this player will be available. This assumes all players from the tier above are off the board.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the highest tier:
Tier 1 : As close to a sure perennial All-Star as you can get
Zion Williamson – 6’7″ 285lbs – Power Forward (Duke)
Zion is as close as you can get to a sure thing in this draft. In a lot of ways he reminds me of Charles Barkley. He is bigger than most players around him, savvy with the ball, and has a quick first step allowing him easily to get around most guys his size. He averaged nearly 23pts, 9 boards, 2 assists, steals, and blocks, all on just over 2 turnovers a game. The low turnover number comes with a high usage rate of nearly 29% in his time at Duke. He shot a respectable 34% from 3 showing the ability to stretch the floor as a shooter. The talk from Duke has always been high about his basketball IQ. Pair him with Trae Young’s ability to set him up with Collins out pick n rolls and you have a deadly combination. Zion would also bring an edge defensively to pair with the improvement in Collins game.
Draft Odds : 10%
Chance to Draft in tier 1 : 100% – If he’s available, the Hawks are taking him. If the Hawks end up with 2 top 10 picks, they could make this draft interesting quickly.
Tier 2 : Not a guaranteed perennial All-Star, but highly likely successful starter
RJ Barrett – 6’7″ 202lbs – Small Forward (Duke)
RJ Barrett came in with a lot of hype, but has been overshadowed some by Zion. Then Morant came into the tournament and just lit scouts and fans alike up. It’s crazy now for some to think he was considered by many to begin 2018 as the #1 pick this year. What I love about Barrett is his combination of an all around game in a good wing body. He can score, rebound, and pass with efficiency. He can lead a fast break to catch a defense off guard (video below). He knows how to play his role, and he definitely shows confidence in what he can do. Could become the best player in this draft at #3 or 4 overall
Draft Odds : 31%
Chance to Draft at #2-4 : 60% – If the Hawks end up with the #2 pick, Barrett would be the bettors choice. Hawks could use more wing players and Barrett would be a great fit for what Pierce is building. If the Hawks get the #2 pick and the Suns get the #1 pick, well things might get more interesting at the top.
De’Andre Hunter – 6’7″ 223lbs – Small Forward (Virginia)
A lot of people may be expecting someone else on this list like Cam Reddish, but I think the Hawks have show they want someone who has shown they can shoot consistently. Hunter shot 42% from behind the 3 and 77% from the line. If you love Reddish for his wingspan then you have to love Hunter even more. He brings the 7′ wingspan and the best wing defensive presence outside Tier 1. He is a winner and as the volume and work load increased form his freshman to sophomore years, so did his development. Hunter could make an impact in 2020 and the Hawks have made no qualms about wanting to attract a free agent. They need players who can make an impact today.
Draft Odds : 27%
Chance to Draft at #2-4 : 30% – I think if the Hawks miss out on Barrett there is a good chance they target Hunter. He brings what the Hawks need on defense and is on the same growth trajectory as Young and Collins in terms of the stage of their development.
Jarrett Culver – 6’6″ 195lbs – Shooting Guard (Texas Tech)
It’s all about wing players in today’s NBA. While the Hawks would love to go small forward I’m sure in this draft, they will take top prospect wing players where they can get them. Culver would give the Hawks some more defensive presence at the wing position. He was relied upon heavily at Texas Tech to carry some offensive burden. He shows the ability to score off the dribble, but wouldn’t be a PG at the next level. Culver shows great potential off the ball as a catch and shoot player who can defend all wing positions after he fills out.
Draft Odds : 15%
Chance to Draft at #2-4 : 10% – Culver would give the Hawks another young top talented wing. Culver is listed at 6’6″ but his height has been challenged in terms of maybe being short. If he is really 6’8 and growing, Culver will move up this board quickly. His handles at 6’9 would give NBA defenses fits. It’ll be interesting to see if he goes or measures at the combine.
Ja Morant – 6’3″ 175lbs – Point Guard (Murray State)
Morant is a potential star. He showed the potential in college to be a deadly facilitator in a modern offense. Morant is extremely athletic for his height and explodes off the floor. He reminds me of shades of Derrick Rose in terms of a smaller guy who easily could kiss the rim. For the record, not calling him Rose, just comparing the explosiveness off the floor. I’ll be interested to see his official height. Morant’s greatest trait is his vision which is evident all throughout his tape. He can navigate tight area’s, make all the outlet passes, or take it with authority himself against a well run defense. Oh, he can drain them from 30ft too..
Draft Odds : 5%
Chance to Draft at #2-4 : <1% – Morant would run with Trae as two undersized guards. That’s not going to help the defense of the Hawks. There is a slight potential to draft and trade if a team like Phoenix falls in love with him and ends up behind the Hawks. Schlenk loves collecting future assets for flexibility if he knows he can get his guy later.