The 2014 NBA Draft is fast approaching, and it seems as if the Atlanta Hawks have been linked to every possible player who projects in the middle of the first round. However, Chad Ford of ESPN has weighed in with a relatively new name in his latest mock draft, as he pegs former Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier to the Hawks with the 15th overall selection.
Here is what Ford had to say about Napier:
The Hawks like international players and Nurkic would be a strong possibility if he's here. They'd also take a long look at Saric if he falls this far, though waiting two years might scare them away.
Kyle Anderson is another strong possibility here. Head coach Mike Budenholzer got to see first-hand how the Spurs used Boris Diaw. Anderson is the closest thing we've seen to him since Diaw entered the league, and the word is the Hawks are very high on him.
However, the Hawks are also not completely sold on Jeff Teague and could explore the market for him this summer. That's led to them to take long looks at both Shabazz Napier and Payton at No. 15 if something materializes in the next few days. Napier, especially, seems to have gained momentum in workouts the past few weeks and sources say he's moved into a strong possibility in Atlanta.
Frankly, this would be a selection that would not make a great deal of sense without a corresponding move. Ford's assertion that the "Hawks are also not completely sold on Jeff Teague" would be a new revelation, and even if that were the case, Atlanta invested heavily in Dennis Schroder in last season's draft and Shelvin Mack produced a breakout campaign in 2013-2014. Napier is player that has skyrocketed in recent weeks, and to be honest, it is easy to become a fan of his game, but the fit concerns are jarring.
In the second round, Ford projects the Hawks to invest in Serbian shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic. In addition to his interesting name construction, Bogdanovic would seemingly be a player that would be stashed overseas for a period of time, but he reportedly has a well-rounded game that projects well. There is a distinct possibility that the 6-foot-6 swingman is gone before Atlanta picks at number 43 overall, but if he's there, this would make some sense in the long term.
Shabazz Napier would be an incredibly surprising name to see attached to the Hawks on draft night, but in a world where Danny Ferry escapes any leaks whatsoever, almost nothing would be deemed as shocking. Keep an eye on Dario Saric as a possibility, but if reports about the Hawks being lukewarm on Teague are true (and I am skeptical), Napier could be in the mix.