The Atlanta Hawks executed a divisive trade on Tuesday evening, shipping Dwight Howard to the Charlotte Hornets for an interesting return package. Part of that deal included the Hawks sending the No. 31 pick in exchange for the No. 41 pick and, frankly, that move resets the calculus for the 2017 NBA Draft.,
Throughout the draft season, we have been breaking down players that could be in the mix at either No. 19 or No. 31 but, things have changed. Some players in the No. 31 range could still be available at No. 41 overall but Atlanta’s sights must shift to some degree.
With that in mind, here are a few players that the Hawks should consider targeting (if available) at the No. 41 pick. For clarity’s sake, they will come to you in alphabetical order and we have tried to be reasonable with players and conceivable availability.
The one-and-done big man from North Carolina would rank somewhere in the mid-30’s on my draft board but, because of the glut of available centers, Bradley could fall. At 6’11 with a 7’4 wingspan, Bradley has legitimate center size and he is already a tremendous rebounder with good finishing ability around the rim.
The question is whether Bradley’s athleticism will translate and if he can protect the rim at the NBA level. He is probably a year or two away from contributing but, if the Hawks are looking for a player with high upside, Bradley fits that bill.
Iwundu is reportedly a fast-rising prospect that could be gone by the time the Hawks come on the board. With that said, the former Kansas State guard has largely been seen as a mid-second round prospect through the process and he certainly could be available.
He measures at 6’7 with a wingspan north of 7’0 (!!!) and Iwundu functioned as Kansas State’s point guard at times. He would certainly fit in as a secondary ball-handler with tantalizing defensive upside, as you can’t teach that type of length and burst. If (and it is a big if) Iwundu can shoot threes effectively, he’d be a steal.
Kuzma has been a favorite in this space and the Hawks have seen up close in draft workouts. He measured at 6’8 with a 7’0 wingspan and, while Kuzma isn’t an off-the-charts athlete, the former Utah standout is an intriguing stretch four possibility.
His shooting (32 percent from three last season) hasn’t translated yet and he will need that to happen. Still, Kuzma could be a developmental player based on his athletic traits and ability to create for himself. He would be a fine value at No. 41.
I’ve long argued against Swanigan at No. 19 and, frankly, No. 31 would have been too high for the former Purdue All-American in my view. At No. 41, though, it makes a ton of sense.
He is perhaps the least likely prospect on this list to be available because a team will probably fall in love with the college production. Swanigan was one of the best players in the country at Purdue, he is a crafty scorer with shooting range and a big-time rebounder.
At the NBA level, though, the defensive concerns are very real. Can he protect the rim as a small-ball center? Can he move in space to play the four? My guess would be “no” on both fronts. With that said, his offense is enough to take a shot at No. 41 if available and a lot of Hawks fans would be very excited.
The backup point guards
Monte Morris and Frank Mason are probably my two favorite prospects in this range. It is entirely possible that one (or both) could be gone if a run on perimeter players occurs but both Big 12 point guards have been mocked consistently in the mid-second round.
Morris is the safer prospect based on size (6’2.5) and steadiness. At Iowa State, he was phenomenal in taking care of the ball and setting up teammates. It is an open question as to whether he can create off the dribble in the NBA or hold up beyond league-average defensively. That is why he’s available in the second round. For me, though, he looks like a very capable long-term backup point guard in the league.
Mason is smaller than Morris and much more of a scorer. Still, he is quicker and, potentially, stronger at the point of attack and Mason is a superior shooter. Teams won’t be getting the dominant assist-to-turnover ratio with Mason but the former Kansas All-American has a role in the NBA as a backup and would be a value pick.