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NBA Mock Draft 2017: Atlanta Hawks tied to UCLA’s Ike Anigbogu

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If you like upside, you might like this.

NCAA Basketball: Washington State at UCLA Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Mock draft season is beginning to pick up and the Atlanta Hawks are in an interesting spot with two picks within the top 31 of the 2017 NBA Draft. With that, some names continue to pop up with regularity but an interesting one came to the forefront in a recent mock draft from Chris Stone of FanSided’s The Step Back.

With the No. 19 pick, the mock projects Atlanta to select UCLA big man Ike Anigbogu and the rationale stems from the need to potentially replace Dwight Howard.

Whether or not the Atlanta Hawks would be willing to swing for the fences with a project at No. 19 is an open question, but there’s certainly no debate that the Dwight Howard homecoming experiment hasn’t gone as planned and the team will soon need to find a viable replacement. UCLA’s Ike Anigbogu could offer some of the same strengths that a younger Howard used to bring to the game in terms of pick-and-roll play and rim protection should he pan out.

While everyone may not agree with that logic, Anigbogu is a (very) talented prospect that also happens to be just 18 years old with strong measurables and high-end athleticism. Stone describes him in this fashion:

Anigbogu is one of the youngest players in the class, though, and he’ll need some time to smooth out the rough edges. He played just 13.0 minutes per game for the Bruins this season, but put up impressive numbers (14.5 points, 12.4 rebounds and 3.7 blocks) when adjusted for a per 40 minutes basis.

The attraction to Anigbogu as a prospect stems largely from his long wingspan and athleticism. If he can learn to harness those things, he has the potential to be one of the best rim protectors in the 2017 draft class. However, right now, he simply can’t stay on the floor long enough to make an impact. Anigbogu averaged 7.6 fouls per 40 minutes during his freshman season. Atlanta may not be willing to take this risk on draft night, but if they do, it could pay off down the line.

Anigbogu ranks as the No. 18 prospect overall by both ESPN and DraftExpress at this early juncture and that places him well within the range of possible outcomes for the Hawks at No. 19. As noted above, this would be anything but a safe pick for Atlanta given the (very) limited exposure to Anigbogu as a bench player for only one college season. Still, it might be time for the Hawks to start taking upside picks and, if the likes of Jarrett Allen and Justin Patton are off the board at center, Ike Anigbogu might be an interesting target.

What do you think of this possibility?