On Tuesday afternoon, ESPN NBA Draft expert Chad Ford unveiled his latest mock draft (version 7.0), and there is a somewhat familiar name pegged to the Atlanta Hawks with the 15th pick. Earlier in the process, SI.com projected UCLA guard Zach LaVine as Atlanta's selection, and Ford follows suit.
Here is a look at Ford's take on the situation:
The Hawks biggest need is shooting, especially from the 2. While LaVine is trying to show everyone that he's a point guard and might be down the road, most teams think that, at least at the beginning of his career, he's more likely to be a 2. His athleticism and shooting ability, along with terrific upside make him a very intriguing prospect. Two other players to watch here are Bosnia's Jusuf Nurkic and Latvia's Kristaps Porzingis. The Hawks have spent a lot of time scouting both players and have been fearless in taking international prospects in the past. Both possess major upside.
While the upside of LaVine is unquestioned, there is far from a consensus on how he will look at the next level. Ford's assertion that Atlanta's "biggest need is shooting" is a curious one, especially on a team that employs Kyle Korver, but there is no denying that the Hawks are in need of depth on the wing, and that something that LaVine could theoretically provide.
The recent shift toward "project" players with upside, including Jusuf Nurkic and Kristaps Porzingis could mean that there are rumblings from inside Atlanta's front office, but until we get closer to the draft itself, there will be a great deal of smoke. LaVine likely isn't a player that would greatly help the Hawks in a potential playoff push as a rookie, but players with 46-inch vertical leaps and his shooting ability don't come along often, and it is easy to see why Danny Ferry would be tempted.