It has been more than six weeks since a major publication linked the Atlanta Hawks with former Arizona forward Stanley Johnson, but on Tuesday morning, the two parties were joined together once more in a mock draft. Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated put forth his 4.0 edition, and in it, he had this to say about a potential partnership between Johnson and the Hawks.
With DeMarre Carroll hitting free agency, the Hawks could have an opening for a defensive stopper. Johnson is a sturdy, athletic defender with an NBA-ready frame who will need work on the offensive end before he can crack Atlanta’s rotation. Atlanta GM Wes Wilcox has a sharp eye for talent. Bobby Portis and Kelly Oubre are options here as well.
The principle reason that Johnson hasn't been "in play" for the Hawks throughout the process is the belief that he will be off the board before the 15th pick. In the great majority of mock drafts, Johnson has landed firmly in the lottery, but in this scenario, he drifts behind players like Sam Dekker and R.J. Hunter (!), and it would be beneficial for the Hawks if he were to tumble to this point.
Mannix references both Portis and Oubre as possibilities (and we did so here), but Johnson appears to be the best option of the three, combining upside with relative safety in a way that neither of the other two players can. As a freshman at Arizona, the 6-foot-7 Johnson averaged 13.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while playing only 28.4 minutes, and with a wingspan of nearly 7 feet, he has the NBA body to excel on both ends.
This projection will undoubtedly bring some excitement to fans of the Atlanta Hawks, but at this point, it must be met with a bit of skepticism as to Johnson's likelihood to fall to the 15th overall pick.