NBA Mock Draft: Explaining the SB Nation Mock Draft picks

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Selecting two players for the Atlanta Hawks at #17 and #18 wasn't easy. It also may go against everything this fanbase, and myself, might have wanted going into the draft.

Alternate Headline: "How to troll your fanbase in two easy first round selections"

Ok, so we had some idea of who would be available when we picked in the SB Nation Mock Draft at picks #17 and #18.

This was also two weeks ago, before we knew there was zero chance Chris Paul would consider Atlanta, a probability that has likely become reality with his involvement in reviving the Doc Rivers to LA trade. Only Donald Sterling can help us now.

Really wanted to take at least one rotational big and some kind of BPA while weighing the option of a draft and stash player with great potential.


Our top two bigs: Gorgui Dieng and Rudy Gobert, went off the board before our pick, leaving Steven Adams, Mason Plumlee and Kelly Olynyk on the board for that pick.

At the wings, we looked at Jamaal Franklin, Tony Mitchell and Giannis Adetokunbo and all available.

Both point guards we were looking at were off the board as well (Shane Larkin, Dennis Schroeder).

Looking at the bigs, Adams looked so lost at time at Pitt that the fact that his frame is full-on NBA center material, it's hard to tell if he'll do anything with it. Olynyk is the most polished of the bigs available, but how he scored at Gonzaga doesn't seem like it would be repeatable in the NBA, and his game looked quite below the rim on finishes.

That left Plumlee, who is derided for his lack of complete game, but lack of a complete game looked like a theme among 7-footers this year. Plumlee did the things I think I would like to see on the court as a rotation big: Play above the rim, rebound, and run. His blocked shot prowess is not on the level that my own fetishes would consider satisfying, but it'll do.

For the other player, it came down to taking the other of the bigs as a project, getting a wing who can defend that would replace the defense lost with the Joe Johnson/Marvin Williams deal, or gambling a bit to take a considerable upside pick.

I ruled out the other bigs as Olynyk seemed more of a 4 in the NBA and Adams I can see getting left behind by the league, so I focused on the wings.

Franklin stood out with his tenacity and rebounding and while his shot seems awkward to some extent, the comparisons to Kawhi Leonard make him awfully enticing.

But watching Giannis playing, even in what looked to be a rec-league game in Greece, you saw a wing with a gifted handle, running the point for his team and taking on the attributes of a leader while not ball-hogging to any extreme. He finished above the rim, showed good touch on his shot, and gave you a glimpse of a potential Toni Kukoc like player or, at worst, Boris Diaw. And he just turned 18 -- leaving plenty of imagination, for better or worst, about how he could grow into that frame.

Also, listening to his interviews, it struck me how committed he is to working at getting better, sounded humble and was striving to be the best.

Given the saved cap space and the potential for a huge upside pick, it was hard to pass on Giannis, who was in the 20's in most mock drafts at the time I was picking. To maximize the cap room space, I took Giannis first and then Plumlee.

Fire away. :-)

Exit Question: Given who was left on the board, who would you have taken with those two picks?

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