The Atlanta Hawks weren’t lucky when the NBA tiebreaker drawings were executed but that, of course, doesn’t mean that the sky is falling. Yes, the odds of the Hawks snatching the No. 4 (or No. 5) pick decreased but, in the same breath, Atlanta could easily fall anywhere from No. 1 to No. 6 (with No. 7 being a faint possibility) and that means a number of hypotheticals to evaluate.
Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation did just that with his most recent mock draft and, with the No. 4 pick, the Hawks tabbed Texas big man Mohamed Bamba.
The conversation with Bamba always starts with his length. He’ll have the longest wingspan in the NBA (7’9) from the moment he’s drafted. Bamba is already a skilled shot blocker, finishing No. 5 in block rate (13.2 percent) during his one season at Texas. He should also grow into a monster lob target on offense if used as the rim runner in a spread pick-and-roll attack like Houston’s Clint Capela. There’s potential as an outside shooter here, too. Bamba is a bet on tools over production, but a team committed to developing him could one day have a modern day center that’s both terrifying and unique.
If there is one thing that even casual draft monitors know about Bamba, it is his incredible length and, as noted above, that brings an immense defensive ceiling into the equation. With that said, the comparison to Clint Capela is an interesting one and, while Bamba’s most prevalent comparison has been to Rudy Gobert (for obvious reasons), both make sense in that it is entirely possible he evolves into a plus offensive player while still being known for his defensive impact.
In this scenario, Bamba was the choice for the Hawks even with Oklahoma’s Trae Young, Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. and, most surprisingly, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III still on the board. Taking Bamba over Bagley III would not be well-received by some corners of the fan base but it is also isn’t criminal behavior either.
Of course, the debate will rage between now and late June and, if anything, things will pick up after the draft lottery is complete on May 15. Still, it is already interesting to consider a future pairing of Bamba and John Collins in the frontcourt and, if everything went beautifully, it would be a terrifying combination for opponents.