With no games going on last night in the NBA there were not any changes in positioning from the last edition of the ping-pong chronicles so today’s installment will focus on the Hawks draft positioning and prospects available at Atlanta’s picks.
With only five games remaining this season, Atlanta is firmly entrenched at the top of the NBA Draft Lottery standings, holding the third-worst record in basketball. As Houston has now clinched a playoff berth, the Hawks know for sure that they will have two first-round selections in the 2018 Draft with a possible third first-round pick coming from the Timberwolves, should they also make the postseason. Minnesota’s magic number is down to just two and the pick should be in good position for the Hawks if it conveys.
The Hawks own pick currently has a 46.9% chance to be in the top 3 choices when draft time comes and has a 15.6% chance of being the number one overall pick. So, lets take a look at some of the talent Atlanta could choose to pick up if they managed to grab a top 3 pick.
The 7-foot-1 center out of the Bahamas has long been lauded as an easy pick to go in the top 3 selections and it is not hard to see why. His physical presence is intimidating but his agility and touch is guard-like when on the floor. Ayton possesses a 9-foot-3 standing reach and a 7-foot-6 wingspan which he uses well on defense while hedging screens comfortably and blocking any shots near the paint. Most impressively, Ayton shot 61 percent inside the arc and even showed some range in Joel Embiid-like fashion hitting 34 percent of his three-point shots. Ayton will most likely be the number one overall pick and is a franchise altering cornerstone type of player with NBA size and talent.
Doncic is a 6-foot-7 guard out of Slovenia who just turned 19 years old but is already lighting the world on fire with his sensational play for Real Madrid. He is not the most athletic player out there but his IQ is on a completely different level from other prospects in this draft. This season in EuroLeague, Doncic is averaging 15 points, 4.5 assists and 5 rebounds per game making him one of the draft prospects with the highest floor. Doncic has a knack for being a primary ball handler and can create for himself along with his teammates. Doncic at his age is already proving to be NBA-ready as soon as he enters the league while playing against more difficult competition in EuroLeague than in NCAA Basketball and still posting big numbers. Doncic seems to be almost assuredly a top 3 selection and the Hawks are absolutely keeping their eyes on him.
One of the most intriguing prospects at the top of the Draft is Marvin Bagley, who also just turned 19 years old after reclassifying and graduating high school a year early. Bagley stands 6-foot-11 and weighs in at 220 pounds with a clean build. He is one of the most athletically impressive players coming out of college this year and averaged a double-double for Duke while shooting 61 percent from the field and an astonishing 40 percent from three point range. Bagley has the speed and length with a 7-foot-1 wingspan to be a strong defender in the post and on the perimeter in the NBA and must have coaches salivating at the thought of having a two-way player of his caliber on their teams. Bagley showed an ability to put the ball on the floor and his rebounding is top notch making him a shoo-in to become a top 3 pick in the Draft and possibly number one overall.
If the Timberwolves pick did convey to the Hawks, they could be looking at a selection somewhere in the late teens to early twenties where they nabbed last season’s first round pick John Collins at 19th overall. Here are a couple prospects that the Hawks may have a chance to pick up with the Minnesota pick:
The 18 year old Simons is expected to enter the NBA Draft straight out of high school this year. Simons draws comps to 76ers guard Markelle Fultz in both size and playmaking ability as Simons stands 6-foot-4 and is a three level scorer. His quickness with the dribble allows him to get into the lane and his three point shooting prowess will make him a fully capable NBA player. The risk with this pick is that Simons is raw and while he could eventually become a starter, he is going to need some early polishing.
Robinson too is essentially coming straight to the NBA out of high school after being forced to sit out the 2018 NCAA season due to a rules violation. Robinson is a physical presence at 7 feet tall and has a high ceiling after showing off in high school but not playing this year. At 20 years old there would still be time to invest in Robinson in hopes that his physical tools and athletic ability can translate to NBA success.
Musa, out of Croatia, is about to turn 19 years old but already possesses many of the intangibles needed for success at the NBA level. He has the capacity to be a secondary ball handler and passes well with his 6-foot-9 frame. His three-point shot is solid and defense is passable but will need to improve for him to stick in the NBA.
The Rockets pick owed to the Hawks will fall 30th after Houston clinched the best record in the league and with the Hawks only second-round pick not projected to be far behind, here are some prospects the Hawks might take a look at with both picks:
Bonga is listed as a guard with an imposing frame for that position at 6-foot-9 and may later be more utilized as an NBA small forward. Coming out of Germany just like another current Hawk player that fans are already familiar with, Bonga possesses next level speed and can handle the ball really well for his size. He struggles somewhat from three but has a working jump shot and makes up for his shortcomings with some fine defensive play.
Alkins has shown flashes of becoming a next level scorer at Arizona but turnovers have been his biggest weakness so far. Alkins is a good three-point shooter at 36 percent with a sizable amount of attempts and has some great athleticism. Alkins is a draft and polish player meaning teams would take him on knowing there is work to be done in his game for the first year or two of his career but his upside is high.
Graham is one of the older prospects in the Draft and is also one of the more plug and play ready players because of it. His career at Kansas has been a good one and the 6-foot-2 point guard can really shoot the three at 40 percent. Graham averaged 7.2 assists this season and is a solid prospect to become an NBA backup point.
Realistically the Hawks could make all four picks they might have in the Draft but could also choose to pick quality over quantity. With how stingy teams were with their first round picks around the trade deadline this season, it seems unlikely that the Hawks could package the Minnesota and Houston picks to move up dramatically. It’s possible those two picks could move Atlanta back into the lottery, but with how deep the draft is this season it might be better to stand pat.
Tonight we are back to NBA action. Make sure to keep a close eye on the Timberwolves over the next few days as clinching a playoff spot becomes more likely. As always stay tuned for tomorrows update to the ping-pong chronicles.