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 breakdown revolves around Michigan big man D.J. Wilson.
Players that spend three years at the college level are often cast off by members of the NBA scouting community, simply because there “is a reason” they lasted that long before entering the professional ranks. For D.J. Wilson, though, it was clear that he needed that kind of seasoning and, given his relatively young age and profile, upside persists for the former Michigan big man.
Wilson measured at nearly 6’11 at the NBA Draft Combine and that is a very good thing given his jump shot. There are some big men (i.e. Lauri Markannen) that are better pure shooters at this juncture, but Wilson combines a smooth release with a 37.5 percent clip from three-point range. Beyond that, he is a much better athlete than the typical pick-and-pop big man and the growth with his shooting stroke was stark.
Elsewhere, Wilson must improve as a finisher around the rim but there is nothing to say that he can’t. He boasts a 7’3 wingspan that should allow him to usurp length in the paint and his leaping ability is unusually good for a player of his size. There are certainly question marks with his polish at this point but Wilson’s offensive upside is considerable.
Wilson isn’t the most physical player in this class and that will have to change for him to reach his defensive peak. As noted above, his leaping ability and wingspan display his large potential as a deterrent defensively, but Wilson is often out of position and his raw profile shines through at inopportune times.
As a junior in Ann Arbor, Wilson’s block rate slipped to 5.2 percent and that is, well, a concern. Some of that can be explained away with the fact that he played more on the perimeter as his career continued but Wilson will almost certainly be a pure big man in the NBA and will need to sure up that area of his game.
Fit for the Atlanta Hawks
It is easy to see why the Hawks might be interested in Wilson. His presence would fit snugly with Mike Budenholzer’s system in that he can step away and provide spacing while not sacrificing much in the way of length. There would be a real learning curve (as there would be anywhere for Wilson) but having an athletic, skilled big man is never a bad thing.
At this point, it is probably more feasible for the Hawks to target Wilson at No. 31, especially if you believe anything about publicly available mock drafts. He could be a fast-rising prospect, though, based on the tantalizing package of skill set and athletic profile. Wilson made the right decision in foregoing a final season at Michigan. If the Hawks go with a different position at No. 19 and have the good fortune of Wilson slipping, this would be a strong marriage.