Wings are more important than ever in today’s NBA but, in the 2018 NBA Draft, many of the top available prospects are big men. In fact, only Luka Doncic and (perhaps) Michael Porter Jr. are seen as potential top-five selections among this year’s wing crop.
However, there are a number of quality wing and perimeter-oriented prospects projected later in the first round and a recent mock draft from Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated sends two of them to Atlanta.
As the headliner, the Hawks tabbed Michigan State big man Jaren Jackson Jr. with the No. 3 pick, citing “a critical duality for modern bigs” in the youngster’s ability to both space the floor offensively and defend the rim (and in space) defensively. Beyond that, though, Maryland wing Kevin Huerter was the pick at No. 19 overall and Woo had this to say about the choice.
One of the biggest risers over the course of the predraft process, Huerter is known to have secured at least one guarantee from teams further down in the first round and has shut down his workouts. The Lakers and Jazz have both been linked to him as destinations. It seems like his landing spot may wind up a little higher than that, and he’s also been tied heavily to teams selecting in the teens.
The Hawks worked him out and are known to be among the interested parties, and his size and shooting ability would seem to offer a level of safety and reasonable floor. As long as his defense proves to be enough, Huerter should be able to carve out a career as a shooter and ball-mover.
As noted above, there are whispers of a “promise” of sorts for Huerter that paved the way for him to remain in the draft. Though there is no firm reporting on the Hawks as that team, Atlanta is believed to be in the range where it would make sense and Huerter’s propensity for jump shooting has led many to compare him to Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson.
For me, that is a very aggressive comparison and not one that I would utilize at this point in time. Still, Huerter is a fast-rising prospect for a reason and his shooting ability and overall scoring acumen are very attractive. Though I would rank him lower than No. 19 overall on my board, it wouldn’t be an egregious reach by any means and, frankly, the blow would be softened a bit by Sports Illustrated’s projection with the No. 30 pick.
After noting that, of course, the Hawks may attempt to package their three picks between No. 19 and No. 34 to move up in this class, Woo writes the following about Tulane swingman Melvin Frazier.
One of the combine’s big winners who shut it down on the second day of scrimmages, Frazier has big-time tools, a workable jumper and a nearly 7’2” wingspan. His game isn’t polished, but he covers a ton of ground and is the type of flier teams are eager to take.
He has some bad habits and is more of a reactive than instinctive player who needs work as a decision-maker—his feel for scoring just isn’t that great. But if Frazier plays hard consistently, hits open threes and continues to generate extra possessions on the defensive end, he could make it work. He’s getting looks in the late first round.
Frazier is a prospect that many non-diehards haven’t had the chance to fully evaluate, simply because he operated off the radar at the college level. Still, his measurables are off the charts (including the aforementioned 7’2 wingspan) and Frazier is a tremendous defensive prospect as a result.
For me, the question comes with his jump shot, even after he converted 38.5 percent of his threes during his final college season. If Frazier can be consistent as a shooter, avenues open up for a highly productive career as a modern 3-and-D player with great size and, at No. 30 overall, the value could be immense.
Stay tuned as more mock drafts roll in. The countdown is on.