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Atlanta Hawks land significant haul in latest ESPN mock draft

Mock draft season continues... even in December.

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Syracuse Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

As the college basketball season continues, more and more 2018 NBA Draft insight will come to the forefront and it was a big week for mock scenarios. Earlier this week, we detailed a projection that sent Luka Doncic to the Atlanta Hawks with the No. 2 overall pick and, this time around, Jonathan Givony of ESPN weighed in on what the Hawks could do with four selections within the top 35 picks.

First, the mock draft pegs Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. to Atlanta with the No. 4 pick and that is not a surprise given that Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and Doncic were off the board in this mock. It would require the Hawks to tab Porter over Texas big man Mo Bamba and others despite injury concerns but, when healthy, Porter Jr. presents a very intriguing mix of two-way upside and size to project as a long-term stretch four at the NBA level.

While the headliner will always be Atlanta’s projected top five selection, Givony continued and projected SMU guard Shake Milton to the Hawks (via Minnesota) at No. 21 overall. With that, he said the following:

With the second of their three first-round picks, the Hawks might look to add some backcourt depth, specifically someone who can play behind or alongside incumbent starters Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore.

A player such as Milton, who has the size and length to defend all three backcourt spots and can operate on or off the ball with a consistent outside shot, would make sense.

Milton is not particularly intriguing in terms of upside but, in the same breath, he possesses a highly useful jump shot with real size (6’6) and defensive versatility. In short, that would be something of an ideal fit alongside a variety of starting guards.

Finally, the ESPN mock rounds things out by sending Syracuse swingman Tyus Battle to the Hawks at No. 29 (via Houston) and that is also an interesting pick. In some ways, it seems far-fetched that Atlanta would make all three selections on college players, particularly with none involving the point guard or center spots. Still, Battle has been better than advertised in a small sample size at Syracuse this season and, as a defense-first prospect, would have less concerns in terms of “fit” than most first round selections.

Atlanta then is projected to add Goga Bitadze, a center from the Adriatic League at No. 34 overall and it cannot be overstated just how unlikely it seems to be that the Hawks would simply “stay put” in drafting four players prepared to come over right away. Without full detail on Bitadze at this stage, the theory would be adding another intriguing piece with “draft-and-stash” models in the past.

For me, the Hawks landing the No. 4 pick would be a disappointment at this stage, simply because my personal board has a gap between the top three and the next tier. Still, Porter Jr.’s upside is quite real when healthy and Atlanta picking up three first round picks (as many project) in what looks to be a loaded draft would be a very nice thing.

Stay tuned.