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 installment references Kansas State guard Wesley Iwundu.
Wesley Iwundu has been projected to go in the second half of the second round in most mock drafts until the past week or so. At this point, he is now starting to move up on some of those mocks into the first half of the second round and, potentially, into the back half of the first. Really, that should not be that surprising. He offers a ton of length (7’1 wingspan) and has enough skill potential to play on and off the ball offensively.
Iwundu projects as a combo guard but not in the way that some players are in that they are not good enough at either position to play it full time. I think he could be developed as a full time point guard or a full time shooting guard depending on what an organization wants to do with him. He would have further to go to play full time as a point guard but I see no reason why he would not eventually get there.
The 22-year-old plays with impressive ambidexterity. He shoots with the right hand but tends to dribble with his left hand most of the time. I don’t see any reason for concerns such as with Ivan Rabb (RH shooter, LH finisher) as Iwundu looks comfortable finishing at the rim with either hand.
Iwundu made himself into a solid shooter in his four years at Kansas State, finally breaking the 35 percemt 3-point threshold and the 70 percent FT threshold during his senior season. The shot will need to be more consistent and he will need to become more confident with it. He loves to facilitate but when operating in the pick and roll he has a very strong preference to make the pocket pass or attack with dribble penetration.
At the next level, defenders are going to go under the screen on him 100% of the time until he can demonstrate that he has the confidence to punish that with a perimeter shot. For now, he is a much better shooter off of the catch than off of the dribble.
Whatever amount of money Iwundu ends up making in the NBA will likely come from what he can do on the defensive end of the court. NBA teams strongly value a third guard that can defend both the point guard and the shooting guard positions with equal effectiveness. In some match ups he will even be able to slide to the small forward position on defense.
He is going to need to tighten up some of his defensive play as to maximize the impact be brings as a defender. To date, he has relied on his length a lot and can get caught flat footed at times. At other times he can be a little to eager jumping a passing lane that he blows his primary assignment.
But when he is playing fundamentally sound basketball, Iwundu is a terrific help defender. He demonstrates a very high IQ game when defending off the ball when one of his teammates is struggling to defend at the point of attack; he knows how to help in that situation. So I would expect that he will grow into becoming a very good team defender at the NBA level.
Fit for the Atlanta Hawks
Well, if you wish there was a Kent Bazemore that was just a little bit bigger and had a decent amount of more ball skill his first year in the league, Iwundu might just the player for whom you were looking. At times on defense you even see a little bit of Thabo Sefalosha in his game as well. So these comps would lead one to believe that he is an ideal fit for the Hawks.
I do think that on the 15-man roster the Hawks would ultimately benefit from a fifth guard that can be developed as a combo guard with the idea that after a year or so of development he could have the opportunity to start competing for the third or fourth spot in the back court rotation. Iwundu could be a perfect fit for a developmental spot such as that.
Iwundu is another player projected in nearly every mock draft to go in between the No. 31 or No. 60 spots. I would think that the Hawks will very likely be able to get a better value player with their first pick in the second round. But if the draft breaks in a very specific way (e.g. Jordan Bell, D.J. Wilson and Tony Bradley are taken in the first round) I don’t think it would be crazy for the Hawks to consider former Kansas State standout with 31st overall selection.
He strikes me as a player the Spurs are going to target in that Iwundu was built perfectly for the famous hammer play that San Antonio has run for years with Manu Ginobili. With that said, Hawks fans that are in on him might want to keep an eye on the Spurs if they start making noise about trading back 5-10 spots or so from the 29th overall pick.