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 centers on Oregon big man Jordan Bell.
Heading into the 2017 NCAA Tournament, it would have been difficult to find anyone that projected Oregon’s Jordan Bell as a first-round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. While he hasn’t quite ascended to “lock” status in that regard, an impressive showing on college basketball’s grandest stage and another strong performance at the NBA Draft Combine have vaulted Bell to real consideration as a top-40 player in this class.
Bell shot a blistering 63.6 percent from the floor during his final college season and, even as a supporting player, that is remarkable. The 6’9 big man also uses his athleticism and burst quite well on the offensive end, especially when serving as a finisher in pick-and-roll and other situations that result in Bell being around the rim.
What he isn’t, though, is a primary player on the offensive end or anything approaching it. Whether Bell can form a competent jump shot is up for debate and he is incredibly raw on the offensive end in general. In fairness, he wasn’t asked to do a ton offensively at Oregon but it would be highly aggressive to peg him as even an average player on that end in the future.
Judging by his offensive outlook, you can imagine that this is where Bell shines. While OG Anunoby profiles as perhaps the best overall defensive prospect in this class, Bell is the best defender at the moment, especially on the interior. He posted a career 9.5 percent block rate in college and Bell’s ceiling as a deterrent around the rim spiked in the tournament run for the Ducks.
Beyond, Bell is also a tremendous athlete that has shown the tools needed to effectively switch and play a versatile role in today’s NBA. If there is a concern, it comes with the fact that he isn’t “center-sized” at 6’9 with an 8’8 standing reach but Bell plays above his tools and that is readily apparent.
Fit for the Atlanta Hawks
It would be a stretch to say that Bell could fit into the conversation at No. 19 overall but he certainly could at No. 31. That would perhaps manifest itself realistically if the Hawks went with an offense-focused perimeter player at No. 19 but, even if Atlanta went in search of a “ceiling” big man with its earlier pick, Bell provides a relatively safe player that could function immediately in the league.
The big question with Bell is whether he can develop into anything approaching a contributor on the offensive end. If he can do that, he’ll be an immense steal for any NBA team that invests a late first or early second round pick.
Even if he doesn’t, though, Bell will likely be a useful bench piece for someone in the league and he’ll be closer to “ready” than most players in this class.