The Atlanta Hawks have an interesting decision to make with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Travis Schlenk and company will be choosing between a few quality options and, in the early going, Michigan State big man Jaren Jackson Jr. appears to be one potential target.
In that vein, Jonathan Givony of ESPN projects the Hawks to select Jackson Jr. in the worldwide leader’s most recent mock draft. That certainly isn’t a surprise but, in this case, Atlanta would be choosing Jackson Jr... over Slovenian prospect Luka Doncic.
The Hawks will be in best-player-available mode, but it helps to be able to complement their existing roster with a building block that fits with the surrounding talent. Jackson would be the ideal big man to pair with promising rookie John Collins.
The youngest player projected to be drafted, Jackson might have the highest ceiling in terms of his ability to affect the game on both ends of the floor. He has enviable physical tools, including a 7-foot-4 wingspan and tremendous mobility. Jackson’s ability to space the floor (40 percent from 3 and 80 percent from the line), block shots (5.7 per 40 minutes), switch on every screen and, increasingly, put the ball on the floor from the perimeter makes him an ideal fit for the modern NBA.
In this mock scenario, Arizona’s Deandre Ayton and Duke’s Marvin Bagley III are off the board for the Hawks. That essentially leaves a head-to-head choice between Jackson Jr. and Doncic (in the eyes of this writer) and, at least for now, ESPN projects the Hawks to pass on Doncic, much in the way they have reported as a possibility on previous occasions.
It is worth noting that Jackson Jr. is a tremendous prospect (as noted by Givony above) and he is absolutely worthy of heavy consideration at No. 3 overall. In the same breath, it would be intriguing on a number of levels if Atlanta were to pass on Doncic, who many (including myself) see as the top available option in the 2018 class.
Obviously, every caveat is necessary when it comes to evaluating a mock draft on May 30 but this one will turn some heads. Stay tuned.