The Atlanta Hawks appear to be more focused on playoff positioning than building for the future in early February, but it is always fun to look ahead. With that in mind, Chad Ford of ESPN Insider released a full first-round mock draft on Tuesday and the Hawks are slotted in with the No. 19 overall pick according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index.
While that alone would generate discussion, the player linked to the Hawks is (much) more interesting, as it is Wake Forest power forward John Collins.
The Hawks' entire crop of power forwards is set to enter free agency this summer. Collins ranks second in the NCAA in player efficiency rating (PER).
He's crazy efficient around the basket, a great athlete and a very good defender. He might be the most underrated player on the board. I won't be surprised if he moves up significantly before the draft.
Collins, who stands at 6’10 and 235 pounds, and he is closer to a hybrid big man than a do-everything forward. In the same breath, he is a tremendous athlete that profiles well at the next level given his rebounding and Collins has come out of nowhere on a lot of draft boards.
The nugget about Atlanta’s power forward group in free agency is particularly noteworthy, especially if the Hawks do not intend to play Taurean Prince in that role down the line. Mike Muscala has been a team favorite for a long time, but nothing is guaranteed there, and Paul Millsap’s free agent situation is well-documented.
It is way too early to get bogged down in legitimate concerns about fit and whether a player like Collins would be available at No. 19, but he wouldn’t look bad in an Atlanta Hawks uniform. Only four months until the 2017 NBA Draft. Breathe it in.