The Atlanta Hawks could be weighing a number of different options when it comes to the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft, and things are very much up in the air in the wake of the Jeff Teague trade. However, information is beginning to trickle out about Atlanta's potential plans, and the most recent mock draft from ESPN's Chad Ford ($) could be revelatory.
With the number 12 pick, Ford projects that the Hawks will pick up Marquette big man Henry Ellenson.
If they do have the pick, they need a center, which makes Poeltl a very good fit if he's on the board. If he's not, Ellenson's ability to play both the 4 and 5 should be attractive. He can stretch the floor and bang in the paint.
Wing is also a need, and it's not out of the question that they could take a shot at Denzel Valentine. They've been doing a lot of homework on him. If there weren't concerns about his knees, I think this would be a likely spot.
Whether the Hawks "need a center" remains up for debate (and this is not a new point of view from the writer), but aside from that, Ellenson is an intriguing prospect. As noted in our breakdown of various targets at 12, Ellenson does not profile as a traditional center given his defensive and athletic limitations, but his floor-spacing would be a nice fit in Atlanta's offense.
At number 21 overall, Ford sends 7-foot-1 project Thon Maker to Atlanta. The breakdown of the pick includes a note that the Hawks "can afford to swing for the fences" given the presence of two first-round picks at this stage, and Maker would be a fairly significant gamble. At his size, Maker is an unbelievable athlete with shooting range and a quality motor, but there are real questions about how his game will translate, especially when it comes to his frail frame and minimal level of high-end experience.
Using the two picks in this fashion, with one "safer" pick (though Ellenson could be constituted as a project in his own right) and one home run attempt would not be a bad use of resources. Still, the possibility remains that this front office will move on from one or both of the selections before (or during) Thursday night, and the Hawks could also look to stash a player in Europe for additional flexibility.
Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest.