The Atlanta Hawks might be looking to move the newly acquired number 12 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft... but they might not. As a result, the Hawks must also evaluate available prospects in a new ‘‘range’’ and we will do the same in this space.
Previously, we took a glance at a handful of pot targets with the number 21 overall pick, and also broke down some players that Atlanta should be avoiding at that particular slot. Though one prospect in particular will appear on both lists, the majority of the list below should be relatively new for Hawks fans looking to get a grasp on the talent pool.
Now, let’s get to some (quick) evaluations in alphabetical order.
Wade Baldwin, PG Vanderbilt
With Kris Dunn long gone by this point, Baldwin is the top-rated point guard available, and that places him firmly in Atlanta’s sights. The Hawks don’t need to tab a point guard in the first round even with Jeff Teague on the outs, but the possibility is legitimate.
Baldwin brings a lot to the table in that he has good size (6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan) with strength and three-point shooting range. From a pure talent standpoint, he is worth this level of investment, but at the same time, there are mixed reviews about his make-up and Baldwin may not be able to function long-term as a pure point guard.
It’s not an ideal fit, but it would be easy to see why Atlanta could become enamored with his game.
Malik Beasley, SG Florida State
Word broke late on Wednesday night that Beasley could be in play for this pick, but prior to that, he would not have been included in this space. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard would be a nice addition to the roster, but it feels like a real reach at number 12 overall.
Jaylen Brown, SF/PF California
Brown is a local product, and that certainly adds some additional intrigue. However, he is probably the player on this list that is most likely to be off the board before Atlanta would (theoretically) pick at 12.
The 6-foot-7 forward from Marietta would be a fantastic fit in Atlanta because of his physicality and size on the wing. Brown boasts a 7-foot wingspan with real athleticism and an NBA-ready body, and he has a quick first step that allows him to project well as a slasher and finisher at the next level. In addition, Brown is a very nice defensive prospect that would fit beautifully in guarding both 3’s and 4’s, and the Hawks have needed that player since DeMarre Carroll left for Toronto.
Brown does have drawbacks in that he isn’t a great shooter right now (29% from three, 65% from the free throw line last season), but “Hawks University” has done wonders for players with similar faults. Jaylen Brown falling to number 12 would be a dream scenario, but it would be phenomenal value.
Deyonta Davis, C/PF Michigan State
Prior to the Teague-driven madness on Wednesday, there was a mock draft that projected Davis to fall to Atlanta at number 21 and that seemed silly. At number 12? Not so silly.
Davis is a tremendous athlete at 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, and while he is a true project given his lack of seasoning at the college level, the upside is quite real. He projects as a potentially elite rim protector and finisher in the NBA, and Davis even boasts a jump shot that looks to be of NBA quality from the center position.
It requires some projection to see Davis as an upper-echelon NBA center, but the tools are there and he would be a nice addition to the frontcourt as a developmental piece.
Henry Ellenson, PF Marquette
Despite being a 7-footer, Ellenson isn’t a center at the NBA level, but he is still intriguing. The 19-year-old is highly skilled for his age and size, and even if efficiency did not translate at the college level, Ellenson looks to be a big man that can stretch the floor in the future.
He has an excellent motor, a high basketball IQ and strong passing ability, and Ellenson has shown flashes of brilliance in the mid-range game. Defense is going to be a question mark based on the fact that he isn’t an athlete and Ellenson isn’t terribly long for his size, but if the jump shot plays out to the 3-point line, his star begins to shine brighter. It would be easy to imagine Henry Ellenson in Mike Budenholzer’s offensive system.
Buddy Hield, SG Oklahoma
It appears very unlikely that Hield will be available at number 12, but many Hawks fans appear quite interested in his services, so here we are.
The NCAA Player of the Year has become increasingly popular in NBA Draft circles based on his shooting, as that particular trait becomes more and more valuable. Hield converted more than 45% of his threes as a senior at Oklahoma, and he is the best shooter in this year’s class. That matters, and it is highly useful.
However, shooting is about the only thing that Hield does at an above-average level. He is a decent rebounder from the shooting guard spot, but Hield is a below-average defender that won’t provide defensive versatility in that he can only guard one position. Offensively, there is some question about whether he will be able to create his own shot based on a limited handle, and Hield is certainly not an NBA-level passer right now.
Can he fill a role in the NBA pretty soon? Absolutely, but Hield’s ceiling doesn’t appear to be as high as some think, and contrary to popular belief, the Hawks shouldn’t do backflips if he is available at number 12.
Skal Labissiere, PF/C Kentucky
This pick would require some intestinal fortitude.
Labissiere was once projected as the number two pick (behind Ben Simmons) in this class, but that was before a disastrous freshman season at Kentucky. As a result, he has fallen into the mid-to-late lottery, and Labissiere could even be a value pick if he puts it all together.
It is quite a big “if”, though, as he is wildly raw right now. Labissiere is already 20 years old, and he has not shown the ability to play through contact against high-level competition. All the traits are there, from shot-blocking to jump-shooting and crazy athleticism, but Labissiere doesn’t really know what to do on a basketball court right now and Atlanta would have to be very patient with him.
Dejounte Murray, PG/SG Washington
This pick would drive me insane.
In fairness, I wouldn’t be the only one, as Murray is perhaps the most divisive player in this class. Some feel as if he is a legitimate top-10 prospect (ESPN’s Chad Ford, for instance) while others believe he may not be a first round prospect in this class. On the plus side, Murray is a 6-foot-5 point guard prospect with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, big-time athleticism and good defensive traits.
The negatives are ugly, though, as Murray is a poor shooter that has trouble finishing against length. Also, for a “point guard” prospect, Murray is a brutal decision-maker that sometimes appears to lack basketball IQ, and Atlanta’s coaching staff would have a tough time in the early going.
Murray might fit nicely as a long-term project with the number 21 pick (and a veteran backup between himself and Dennis Schröder), but at number 12, disaster potential exists.
Jakob Poeltl, C Utah
Look! A ‘‘true’’ center!
Aside from Brown, Poeltl is the player least likely to be available according to mock draft consensus, and it isn’t difficult to see why. The 7-foot-1 center was an awesome defensive force during his time at Utah, and he will be drafted for his high-end potential on that end of the floor. Poeltl is a very nice athlete for his size, and he combines that with quality rebounding and shot-blocking instincts and no questions about his motor.
Offensively, Poeltl is more of a mixed bag, as many centers of his nature are at this stage. His best trait might be as an offensive rebounder, but Poeltl has displayed nice touch around the rim at times, and he only needs to be functional as a pick-and-roll player to “earn” this draft slot.
The Hawks may not be looking for a pure center at this slot, but if they are, Poeltl makes sense.
Domantas Sabonic, C/PF Gonzaga
Sabonis is the lone crossover from our list of potential targets at 21, though this is a far more likely scenario. In fact, Sabonis might be the best fit of the bunch.
The 6-foot-10 big man probably doesn’t bring the type of raw upside that some players on this list display, but Sabonis might be the safest pick of all and he isn’t necessarily a low ceiling player. He is a tremendous rebounder to go along with being the best passing big man in this draft (unless you count Ben Simmons). That isn’t a bad combination in and of itself, but Sabonis shows off the fact that he is the son of an NBA player with brilliant basketball IQ and a motor that doesn’t quit.
The knock on Sabonis is that he isn’t a big-time athlete and his wingspan (6-foot-11) is short for a player that projects as a hybrid 4/5 in the NBA. There is a chance that he never becomes anything better than average defensively, but Sabonis’ ability to finish around the rim against elite competition and the way he rebounds and passes make that downside passable at the very least.
In short, I love him.