The Atlanta Hawks need spacing in the worst way. While drafting for need can often be a perilous venture, that glaring weakness has prompted many NBA Draft pundits to project fits like Duke’s Luke Kennard (should be available) with the club.
This week, Reid Forgrave of CBS Sports projected North Carolina forward Justin Jackson with the No. 19 overall pick.
You don't hear these stories much anymore: A highly-regarded five-star recruit who underwhelms at first, stays in college for three seasons and develops into a lottery pick. Jackson is a reminder that college players can develop at different rates, and that shouldn't be considered a bad thing. A three-point shot that had been inconsistent for his first two seasons stabilized his junior year, and Jackson became the versatile and athletic go-to guy for a national championship team.
Jackson’s pedigree as a floor-spacer is mixed, as he made a career-high 37 percent of his three-point attempts last season after struggling for two years in Chapel Hill. If scouts “buy” the jumper, Jackson could project as a solid mid-first round selection, especially given the fact that he elevated his level of play defensively in big spots during his final tour of duty in college.
With that said, the 6’8 forward does have some concerns, including a relatively low ceiling as a result of his athletic limitations. Jackson is already 22 years old and, if the Hawks are looking to swing for the fences, he almost certainly would not be a pick that made a ton of sense.
Jackson would, however, be a fit in the mold of Taurean Prince and DeAndre Bembry as established college players that profile as quick contributors in the NBA world. It must be said, though, that there is a new regime in town for the Hawks and that could signal a shift in draft thinking. For good measure, the majority of mocks have Jackson flying off the board prior to No. 19 so this may be simply a thought exercise rather than an actual decision that needs to be made.
How would Justin Jackson look in an Atlanta Hawks uniform? Let us know in the comments.