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ESPN explores potential fit of Luka Doncic with Atlanta Hawks

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The Hawks may not have the chance to draft Luka Doncic but ESPN broke down how he might look in Atlanta.

Basketball: Luka Doncic Sipa USA-USA TODAY NETWORK

Luka Doncic is a wildly intriguing NBA Draft figure and, unlike the vast majority of top-tier European prospects, he operates on the wing instead of in the frontcourt. That reality, combined with the fact that the majority of NBA fans haven’t seen him play for extended moments, creates quite a bit of conversation surrounding Doncic and where he should fall when June 21 arrives.

Beyond that, there are the questions of fit with Doncic and which NBA team would be best suited to allow his considerable talent to manifest optimally. Mike Schmitz of ESPN recently explored the Doncic experience and the full piece is certainly worth a read when it comes to his overall game and potential in a number of different markets.

With that said, Schmitz discussed Doncic through the fit with each lottery team and, in taking a look at the Atlanta Hawks, he sees a strong future fit alongside “building blocks” like Taurean Prince and John Collins.

Doncic pairs nicely with Atlanta’s most valuable building blocks in Prince and Collins. Prince can fill the wing role while also being able to slide up a spot, giving Doncic an excellent spot-up target as he ranks in the 88th percentile in catch-and-shoot efficiency, per Synergy. Prince is also at least capable of checking the opponent’s best wing. Collins finished 20th in the NBA in transition scoring efficiency, and his athleticism and energy are ideal for Doncic at the 5. On the other end, Collins has the feet to switch ball screens, even if he’s not yet the most reliable pick-and-roll defender and doesn’t quite provide the necessary rim protection.

It will be (very) interesting to see how Atlanta’s new head coach deploys both Collins and Prince, both from a positional perspective as well as within a new offensive scheme. Still, the notion of Prince flashing to the power forward spot is not a new one and Doncic’s size and bulk are appealing in his potential for on-court versatility.

However, not everything is roses through the eyes of Schmitz when it comes to fit and the biggest hiccup is the presence of Dennis Schroder on Atlanta’s roster.

The one young Hawks piece who doesn’t fit all that well is Schroder, who is on the books for $46.5 million over the next three years but might not be a part of Atlanta’s long-term plans. His breakdown speed and shot creation work next to a more methodical Doncic, but he needs the ball to be effective because of his limitations as a shooter. Schroder has underwhelmed defensively as well, finishing in the bottom five among point guards in ESPN’s defensive real plus-minus four out of his past five seasons.

Lacking the ideal backcourt mate could lead to some lumps early in Doncic’s career if he’s saddled with too much shot-creation responsibility. But with plenty of draft picks coming, the Hawks are in a solid position to add more young pieces. Finding the guard to unlock Doncic’s strengths will be key.

It has to be noted that there is a looming potential for a trade that would send Schroder elsewhere. With that said, he and Doncic would not form an ideal pairing in the immediate time frame and, beyond the concerns with Schroder as a player who would have the ball in his hands less, the defensive issues he has displayed over a two-year period are cause for concern, with or without Doncic in the fold.

Obviously, there is a distinct possibility that the Hawks don’t have the opportunity to draft Doncic and more information concerning that potential will come to light with the Draft Lottery on Tuesday, May 15. Until then, many Hawks fans are already dreaming of a world in which a top prospect in the mold of Doncic, Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley or others slot in alongside Prince and Collins for the future and this particular piece explores that.

Stay tuned.