In advance of the 2017 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down a wide variety of players that could be available for the Atlanta Hawks at either No. 19 or No. 31. The series will stretch throughout the month of June and today’s post breaks down international big man Isaiah Hartenstein.
The 2017 NBA draft lacks star quality with regard to international prospects but there are a solid group of big men expected to go between picks 20-40. Nineteen-year-old Isaiah Hartenstein is not guaranteed to be the first among those to be selected but he would be the betting favorite as of now. He is a raw German prospect whose large frame, agility and defensive persistence have him as the betting favorite to be the second overseas player to be selected.
Hartenstein—like any player today who has ever taken a 3—is advertised as a potential stretch big. Like fellow prospect Anjecs Pasecniks, the skill is not something that projects well at this time. At 7’0, 225 pounds, he moves well on a large frame but offers few NBA-ready skills on the offensive end. He shot 28% from the three-point line in a limited sample and his release is extremely long and slow. While his length will afford him more room to get his shot off than many players, his “jumper” is mostly a set shot released in a nice rhythm at the peak of his length. At this time drafting Hartenstein to be a stretch player has as much hope as wishing upon a penny tossed into a fountain.
The good news is that Hartenstein has showed progress inside the arc this season. He is a relentless seeker of the ball on the offensive glass which is where he is at his best at this time. He dives to the rim with and without the ball at a high level for a player of his size. He sees the ball and secures it well when delivered to him from all angles—a challenge for larger players. Like most young bigs, he struggles to play through contact and too often bails out when finishing at the rim. He will need to add strength and some mental toughness to survive the physicality of the NBA game.
Hartenstein is not ready to be much more than a role player at best on the defensive end but he shows signs of NBA readiness on this end. My favorite part of his game is that he is more motivated on the defensive end than when given an opportunity to score. He has great hands and pokes balls away and secures them with abnormal ease. He has good timing in blocking shots and mostly extends himself vertically without fouling.
The biggest challenge for Hartenstein will be adding strength without losing mobility. Currently he would find it to difficult too many NBA-caliber players in one-on-one situations. He lacks the strength to matchup with most NBA bigs and would have little chance against the speed on the perimeter. However, he moves well and could be a versatile defender with regard to switching to players of multiple position in the long run. In the short run, his lack of strength will hold him back from carving out a role early in his career.
Fit for the Atlanta Hawks
Hartenstein is not ready to contribute to an NBA team in 2017-18. It may be too much of a reach to grab such a player with the #19 pick. However, if Atlanta chooses to move down then he could provide significant potential down the road that would fit well in their style of play. I would love to be able to take him at #31 but it would seem highly unlikely that he would fall that low.
Isaiah Hartenstein is an exciting prospect in the long-term who plays with a competitive edge and projects well for today’s game despite questions about his shooting ability. His value is increased if he is willing to be stashed for a year as an NBA team can delay a contract season where he is unlikely to contribute. The video below is film from his best performance this season. As one of the youngest players in this draft, Hartenstein is an ideal fit for a team wanting to secure a developmental project for the future that has a high chance of at least being a contributor.