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 SMU forward Semi Ojeleye.
12 months ago, it would have been nearly inconceivable to project Semi Ojeleye as a first round draft pick. The former five-star prospect had transferred from Duke to SMU and, even with clear talent, there was a lot to be done. After a dynamic season, though, Ojeleye is expected to sneak into the first round on June 22 and he is a very intriguing prospect.
Ojeleye enjoyed a breakout year as a shooter, converting 42.4 percent of his threes on nearly five attempts per game. At the NBA level, that will be his calling card offensively but the 6’7 forward also has the ability to create for himself if and when he defense collapses on his jumper.
It isn’t as if Ojeleye is a dynamic player with the ball in his hands but he can certainly shoot on the move and isn’t limited to standstill operation. It will be important for the jumper to play well at the NBA level but, given a nice stroke and positive results, that seems to be a likelihood.
Ojeleye wasn’t necessarily a dominant defensive player at the college level and his metrics on that end weren’t ideal. With that said, there is a lot to like about his profile when it comes to transitioning to the NBA.
While he is only 6’7, Ojeleye’s wingspan is a positive at 6’10 and he is in tremendous shape, measuring with only 5.5 percent body fat at the NBA Draft Combine. In practice, the 22-year-old should be able to function as a switchable defensive player against wings and power forwards. Ojeleye is also strong enough to really hold up on the interior, even if he does not bring the rim protection that some teams might crave from what could be a long-term power forward option.
Fit for the Atlanta Hawks
Ojeleye isn’t the type of high-upside player that many crave for the Atlanta Hawks moving forward but he would fit nicely. A frontcourt tandem of Taurean Prince and Ojeleye would provide a ton of versatility and, if things go well, spacing from both positions. To be fair, functioning with that duo would be easier if Prince continues to develop as an offensive creator but Ojeleye fits the mold of what Atlanta was attempting to do 12 months ago with a projectable role player that has some upside.
With the way the NBA is moving, you can never have too many functional wings that can defend with versatility and shoot threes effectively. That is Semi Ojeleye. At No. 19, it might feel like a reach for the Hawks, though they displayed the propensity for such a move last season with Taurean Prince. At No. 31, Ojeleye is likely to be gone but, if he was on the board, it would be a big-time bargain for Atlanta.