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NBA Mock Draft 2018: Atlanta Hawks swing for the fences with upside

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If you’re a fan of aiming for a “home run” in the draft...

High School Basketball: 40th Annual McDonald’s All-American Games Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks are in the midst of a full rebuild and that places significant emphasis on the 2018 NBA Draft. That, of course, is an obvious point but there is a school of thought that Travis Schlenk and company should be focusing on upside more than a run-of-the-mill team would be and a recent mock draft from Sean Deveney of the Sporting News outlines a potential scenario if that was the case.

In fact, it would be hard to put together a trio more directly focused on upside than what Deveney projects, beginning with Marvin Bagley III at the No. 3 overall pick and moving on to Mitchell Robinson at No. 19 overall. It would be a bit odd to project back-to-back true big men but, in the case of Robinson, his boom-or-bust potential (full scouting report here) might be alluring.

Reports that the Lakers have made a promise to Robinson with the No. 25 pick are overstated. Sure, the Lakers might like Robinson, who has not done workouts, but there’s no guarantee another team won’t take a gamble on him.

The Hawks are starved for talent and willing to make that gamble. Robinson is a lottery talent, but he has not played in a year after he raised eyebrows by committing to Western Kentucky, then bolted the school last fall.

There is considerably downside with Robinson and that outlines the “gamble” here. He was a consensus top-10 player in his high school class for a reason but Robinson never played at the college level and doesn’t have the best buzz around him in advance of the draft. This might be more realistic at No. 30 overall but, in the same breath, the uber-talented big man may not be around at that point if the Hawks are buying in on his overall prospect status.

Later, Deveney’s projection sends Anfernee Simons (full scouting report here) to the Hawks with the No. 30 overall pick.

Simons did not make it to college after reclassifying and going to prep school, instead taking his chances on his prospects now. He is undersized for a combo guard, but is a good, quick scorer who would be worth a risk for the rebuilding Hawks.

Simons, like Robinson, never played in college but he spent the season in prep school, rather than toiling in anonymity like Robinson did. Still, there is very little information as to how Simons might translate and Atlanta would be betting on upside while acknowledging the (very) low floor of a prospect like Simons. On the high side, he could be a lead creator in the NBA and that prospect type isn’t often around at No. 30. On the down side, he could be out of the league. That’s a big chasm.

Obviously, there will be plenty of mock drafts to sift through before Thursday evening but this one would take the theoretical “home run swing” to the extreme while putting together a very risk haul.

Stay tuned.