When the Big Board first debuted, the Hawks were in position to have the #15 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. All speculation has now been removed as the Hawks know they will have the 15th and 43rd selections in the upcoming draft. It is entirely possible Danny Ferry could choose to use his financial flexibility or future draft picks to move up or down from those selections.
With a deeper draft both in college and international talent than the NBA has had in several years, the Hawks are in good position to add a quality talent with either pick. While fans--including myself--mostly prefer players who can contribute immediately, the best value of the draft is mostly found in players who are young while abnormally productive. With limited roster spots available, Atlanta could select a high-ceiling international talent who can be stashed overseas. However, if a player is available who has the potential to crack the rotation immediately, there are a couple of choices which could be helping the Hawks in the next postseason. Due to limited spots available on the roster, I anticipate the Hawks are unlikely to take 2 players who would be on the roster for 2014-15. If the Hawks do not pick an international player in first round, the 43rd pick--barring a significant change to Atlanta's roster--would seem likely be used on a player willing to be placed overseas.
Remember that this board is NOT my direct rankings of the prospects, but how I view them in relation to how their skills and potential fit with the Hawks and current roster needs. The order listed here takes into consideration that the Hawks are going to be least interested in a point guard and secondly a power forward. Irregardless of position, I would take a prospect at a higher level over one at a lower level. There are a total of forty-seven players listed here as there is little separation for me between those listed 35-46 and any could be available for the Hawks at pick #43.
THE DRAFT BOARD
(Positions in lowercase are positions a player projects to be able to play in a secondary role. International players are shown with the age they will be on draft day.)
1. Jabari Parker, SF/PF (6'8, 248), FR, Duke
2. Joel Embiid, C (7'0, 240), FR, Kansas
3. Andrew Wiggins, SF (6'8, 197), FR, Kansas
4. Dante Exum, PG/SG (6'6, 188), 19, Australia
All of the above players are the likely top 5-6 and will be gone long before the Hawks make a selection. Randle solidified his elite status by showing an improved ability to protect the rim in the postseason. Wiggins continues to be a player whose ability is centered on unlimited physical potential and Exum, (Penny Hardaway-type guard) may be the best international prospect ever. Parker and Embiid should be the first 2 players selected.
I continue to search for what it is that I am seeing in McDaniels that respected scouts do not see. I never placed him at number 5 in the previous board to cause a stir. I genuinely believe he is skilled enough to play immediately, athletic enough to potentially develop into a star, and a perfect fit for what the Hawks need. Listed around 20 on most credible mocks (having moved up significantly since I first reported on him), I still think he ends up in late lottery after he is compared more closely to elite talents. If Atlanta should select him with our pick, I may require emergency assistance from hyperventilating. Especially, if he performs like he did against Georgia State in the NIT.
7. Aaron Gordon, pf/sf (6'9, 212), FR, Arizona
Gordon and Vonleh are high-ceiling talents with opposite profiles. Vonleh has a clear position without showing obvious production. Gordon produced at a high level in college, yet has holes in his game for both forward positions. Gordon's production and physical ability move him ahead of Vonleh in the pecking order.
Behind McDaniels, Young and Harris are the best talents to meet the Hawks' needs. Harris is the better 2-way wing player, yet Young's postseason play revealed that he is a unique talent. Young put up a 41/71/35 shooting slash in the regular season, but raised it to 44/81/45 in his last 10 games. Between the two players, Young's shooting ability is the best skill ready to be translated to the NBA. He also had the best dunk of the NCAA Tournament.
11. Tyler Ennis, PG (6'2, 180), FR, Syracuse
12. Marcus Smart, PG/sg (6'4, 200), SO, Oklahoma State
Smart may have been the first choice in the 2013 NBA Draft if he had declared early and could still end up in the top 5. I am not sold that he has a clear NBA position, although he is mostly projected as a point guard. Ennis is the better point guard prospect and teams in need of the position would be wise to select him over Smart. Teams in need of a point guard can justify taking either as high as number 6.
The most underrated skill needed by the Hawks is passing. The Hawks are one of the best teams at sharing the basketball, yet rarely does a player make elite-level passes that set a player up for a score. Anderson and Saric are both elite passers with rare ball-handling abilities for their size, especially given that both rebound at an elite level. Anderson only had one game the entire college season with more turnovers than assists. However, if given a choice I would prefer the 20-year old Adriatic League MVP who has surprising led a young Cibona team to the Adriatic League Championship (33 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists in championship). Saric is expected to play an additional season or two for a higher-level European team, but he has clearly stated his goal is to be an NBA star.
The top 14 players are all prospects who have the potential to play a role on a team immediately, yet also develop into a star. Most players remaining would project to do one or the other. Nurkic is an unusually skilled center for his age who has shown unprecedented production in the Adriatic League. He plays more like a traditional American center and may be able to help sooner than later. Capela is an elite athlete who is raw, yet unusually productive. He showed his athleticism at the recent Nike Hoop Summit. Either player could possibly be stashed in Europe for a year before coming to Atlanta. If the Hawks do not see a player on the board who can significantly help soon, these two Euro bigs have enormous potential with relatively high floors given their production.
18. Cleanthony Early, SF/pf (6'8, 220), SR, Wichita State
19. Deandre Daniels, SF/pf (6'9, 195), JR, Connecticut [PTH Draft Profile]
All four of these forwards are talented and productive players who may be able to play both forward positions, yet have skills missing to start at either. Warren is a scoring machine who would be a potential fit to fill Mike Scott's role if he is not re-signed. Early is an experienced big-game player with a lot of upside who could be a great fit in Atlanta. He fits the Demarre Carroll/Kawhi Leonard/Paul George mold of workhorse athletes who went unnoticed prior to and during college. Grant is hard to evaluate due to projecting as a defensive star, yet playing primarily in the 2-3 zone in college. He could make a good fit early in Atlanta as his strengths of offensive rebounding and perimeter defense would help meet the Hawks' needs. His shot needs a lot of work, but he did show improvement in his 2 years of college. Daniels unexpectedly declared for the draft as I completed the board. He is a very intriguing prospect with comparable skills to Early who is coming off spectacular play in the NCAA tournament.
I would be a little disappointed if Ferry chose one of this group at #15, but I could not condemn the pick. In fact, any of the twenty-two listed here along with a couple of projects below would be lottery picks in many years. All 3 players from 20-22 are able to shoot at a great to high level and would make a natural fit in Coach Bud's offense. Hood is the most complete player, although his defense needs to improve. Payne is a rare player who can play on the perimeter offensively while being able to defend the post. McDermott is a lethal shooter with physical limitations on the defense. Any of the 3 could be found in a playoff team rotation next year, yet none are likely to develop into starters in their careers. They are all willing passers, yet none of them have shown an ability to set-up teammates for easy baskets.
24. Jordan Adams, SG (6'5, 220), SO, UCLA
25. P.J. Hairston, SG, (6'5, 227), 21, NBDL/North Carolina
All three of these shooting guards showed significant improvement this season. Adams has phenomenal hands defensively (2.6 steals per game) and showed improvement in his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He is a good ball-handling off guard, but has a lot of room to grow in making plays for his teammates. His recent decision to enter NBA Draft after initially deciding to return to school could be a sign that NBA teams have a growing interest in his abilities. Hairston is a capable defender, but lacks both effort and instincts on that end. In D-League play, he has shown an to score in bunches (scoring 40+ points twice this season) and could be a deadly bench weapon immediately. Bogdanovic is the most improved player in the Euroleague where he has shown capable hands and strong passing abilities for an off guard. His ball-handling skills will have to improve or he could be exposed in the NBA. Any of these 3 players falling to #43 would be ideal fits for Atlanta.
27. Damien Inglis, SF (6'9, 210), 19, France
29. Kristaps Porzingis, C (6'11, 220), 19, Latvia
Inglis is a two-way player from French Guiana who has the potential to develop into a small forward with few weaknesses. Jokic is one of the fastest rising players in the draft following impressive displays in Nike Hoop Summit practices. Somewhat like Joel Embiid prior to his back injury, Jokic has improved on a weekly basis in the past 6 months. He has a sophisticated game in the post and has recently shown offensive range. Both players will need time in Europe to allow their bodies to mature, but both of these players have elite talent. Porzingis was expected to wait and declare for the 2015 draft, so I have not seen much of him. An initial look reveals a classic Euro center with some skill, but a need to improve his body. Most grades have him ahead of Inglis and Jokic, so I place him here as a minimal grade. If the Hawks do not select an international player in first round, then all three of these would be high on the probable stash list should they remain on the board with the 43rd pick.
30. Zach LaVine, SG/pg (6'5, 180), FR, UCLA
31. Elfrid Payton, PG (6'3, 190), JR, Louisiana-Lafayette
LaVine is the boom-or-bust player of this draft. Some GM could take him in the lottery and look like a genius or a moron. He can shoot and defend his position, but may lack toughness and resilience. Payton just turned 20 despite three productive seasons of college basketball. He could be the next small college phenom point guard like Damian Lillard or Stephen Curry, but his shooting may leave a team with Tony Wroten 2.0. Payton could be a star very early, but his skills do not fit Atlanta's offense or roster.
32. Nik Stauskas, SG (6'6, 190), SO, Michigan
35. Russ Smith, pg/sg (6'0, 165), SR, Louisville
It hurts me to put 3 competitive college guards who are proven winners this low, but none of the three are talented enough to justify earlier selection given the Hawks current roster. I would have no issue with a team in need of immediate help from a bench guard taking any of these players in the first round. They have all shown enough production to be useful earlier than many players projected for the first round. What this group lacks in ideal size or athleticism, they make up for with an ability to make plays for teammates while being able to score on their own. Stauskas demonstrated an ability to use his length defensively this season, while Napier and Smith have elite hands on the defensive end. Napier or Micic have the most ability to become starting point guards, while Smith could be a high-impact sixth man in the right circumstances. Stauskas is set apart from the others as he has the greatest potential to develop into a starter. He could be an end-of-lottery pick for a team in desperate team of shooting. If the Hawks do not re-sign Shelvin Mack, the Hawks would get value if one of these 4 should fall to #43.
39. Nick Johnson, SG (6'3, 200), JR, Arizona
40. C.J. Wilcox, SG, (6'5, 195), SR, Washington
These 5 seasoned shooting guards can all shoot with varying levels of athletic ability and are more NBA ready than many players in the draft. Marble and Brown are the best defenders of the group and could grown into being effective on both ends of the floor. Marble is the most ready to play in an NBA rotation, while Brown is an athletic finisher at the rim who is still shy of reaching his potential. Patterson has as beautiful a shooting stroke as you will ever see with good size and length for his position. I seriously undervalued his passing abilities in my previous profile of him. Nick Johnson and C.J. Wilcox may have difficulty translating their production to the next level, but they bring complete offensive games that can help an NBA bench.
42. Jarnell Stokes, PF (6'8, 260), JR, Tennessee
43. Johnny O'Bryant, PF/c (6'9, 256), JR, LSU
Jefferson is a player I have been impressed with for some time and solidified his second-round status with outstanding play in the last 2 months of the college season. An older senior, Jefferson is tough and has range while being productive without having plays run for him. Stokes is an absolute warrior on the boards and is another young junior having just turned 20. O'Bryant is a bit of an enigma as he looks like a potential lottery pick in some games and then just vanishes. Both Stokes and O'Bryant could have some upside from having questionable coaching at the college level. Powell is listed higher here than I actually view him as an overall prospect, but he is a smart player with unrealized potential who may be a nice fit in Coach Bud's system. He has decent range and is a good passer, but needs to develop a much better base to survive in the NBA.
45. Deandre Kane, SG/pg/sf (6'4, 200), SR, Iowa State
46. Josh Huestis, SF (6'7, 223), SR, Stanford
47. Fuquan Edwin, SF (6'6, 215), SR, Seton Hall
Kane reminds me a bit of Lance Stephenson. He can get a triple double at any time, is unafraid of pressure, has good ball-handling skills, and plays good defense. He is a very flexible player, but much older than those he has played against. Huestis impressed at the Portsmouth Invitational and could have just the right set of skills to be a great role player in the NBA. Edwin is a gamer who shows more athletic ability on film than is reflected in his combine numbers. He is a sleeper who does a lot of things well and may find his way to an NBA bench as a "3 and D" player. Huestis and Edwin have the most ability in the second round to help Atlanta on the wing next season.
Other notable players to consider (listed in no particular order): Glenn Robinson, Michigan; Mitch McGary, Michigan; Isaiah Austin, Baylor; Semaj Christon, Xavier; Deonte Burton, Nevada; Jahii Carson, Arizona State; Jabari Brown, Missouri; Jordan Clarkson, Missouri; LaQuinton Ross [Profile], Ohio State; Keith Appling, Michigan State; James McAdoo, North Carolina; Joe Harris, Virginia; Akil Mitchell, Virginia; Patric Young, Florida [Profile]; Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado; Bryce Cotton, Providence; Khem Birch, UNLV; Artem Klimenko, Russia; Walter Tavares, Cape Verde, Alesandro Gentile, Italy; Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Greece.