In advance of the 2018 NBA Draft, the Atlanta Hawks are generating a lot of attention. That comes with the territory with a rebuilding squad that owns the No. 3 and No. 19 overall selections but, in addition to those assets, Travis Schlenk has two very interesting selections (No. 30 and No. 34) later in the draft.
While it is never wise to project full-blown stardom in this range, there is value to be had and, before we get into the eight central figures in this space, here are a few additional names (in alphabetical order) that might make sense as considerations.
- Bruce Brown (full profile here) - Brown had a nightmare season at Miami that included injury and performance issues. Prior to that, though, he had a chance to be a top-20 pick for a reson and, as a defense-savvy combo guard with a 6’9 wingspan, there is plenty of space for him in Atlanta.
- Jacob Evans (full profile here) - I don’t think Evans will be there but he fits the 3-and-D mold that teams are looking for if he is available. It’s also easy to love his basketball IQ, which is evident when watching him for any length of time.
- Aaron Holiday (full profile here) - We’ll discuss Holiday at length in association with the No. 19 overall pick, as most of the buzz dictates he is likely to be off the board before the No. 30 spot. If he’s still available, though, the Hawks might want to pounce on a player that projects as a quality option, particularly in the area of knock-down shooting.
- De’Anthony Melton (full profile here) - As with Holiday, we’ll have much more on Melton in conjunction with the No. 19 spot. Still, scouts are split on the former USC guard, with some seeing him as a top-20 guy (myself included) and others projecting a potential slip to the second round. For me, he becomes an utter no-brainer at No. 30 overall.
- Jerome Robinson (full profile here) - I just don’t see it with Robinson. He definitely has NBA-level ability as a shot-maker but that is the extent of the appeal. Beyond that, he is now being widely mocked in the 20’s, making him unlikely as a Hawks target.
- Anfernee Simons (full profile here) - We’ve discussed Simons quite a bit in this space. He has definite upside in a theoretical sense but arguably the lowest floor of any potential first-round pick. I would see the rationale in taking a big swing but that is exactly what picking Simons would be.
- Moritz Wagner (full profile here) - Despite my love of his game, Wagner would be a reach at either selection here. It wouldn’t be egregious, especially if the Hawks believed he could become an average defender, but the value is on the perimeter in this range, with one potential exception noted below.
Without further delay, here are eight players that could make sense for the Hawks at either slot, coming to you in alphabetical order.
If the Hawks are prioritizing shooting in this range, Allen is the best bet. He’s one of the best shooters in the class, off the move and off the catch, and he has weirdly become underrated as a result of the circus surrounding him. Quietly, though, his senior year was rather uneventful and that is, well, a very good thing for Allen’s draft stock.
The questions arrive on the defensive end of the floor but at 6’5 with a 6’7 wingspan and good athleticism, there is reason to believe Allen can be solid on that end. If we knew he’d be solid on that end, Allen would probably be a consensus top-25 player but, with the questions, he lands somewhere in the early 30’s.
As noted above, Aaron Holiday would also be in consideration in this range if he was available and the Hawks were looking for a point guard. Brunson is more of a “pure” point guard type than even Holiday is, though, and there are less whispers about him climbing into the top-25 on draft night.
He’s not a great athlete and that is going to limit his upside, especially at 6’2 with a 6’4 wingspan. Still, Brunson plays a highly intelligent brand of basketball, knows where to be at all times and competes. Throw in a (very) high overall skill profile and he has the look of a backup point guard that sticks. That isn’t sexy but it provides value in this range.
I candidly don’t think DiVincenzo will be around at No. 30 overall but he would be a great value if he was. Honestly, the Hawks might consider looking at the Villanova guard at No. 19, even if I wouldn’t necessarily do so.
He is a good athlete (at 6’4 with a 6’6 wingspan), has some on-ball skills as a creator and, most importantly, is a very good shooter. I think the hype went a little too far during the post-March Madness and NBA Draft Combine glow but DiVincenzo is a first-round talent and he should be treated as such.
Frazier is the only player on this list that I would actively endorse at No. 19 overall. In fact, I’ve selected him there in a few mock drafts this month. That would be seen as a reach in the eyes of many but Frazier is a top-20 overall player for me.
The swing skill is his jump shot, where he made a good chunk of his threes last season at Tulane but didn’t show much before that. If that skill sticks in the NBA, he’ll likely appear to be a heist for whoever drafts him, as Frazier’s defensive tools are off the charts. At 6’6 with a 7’2 wingspan and hyper-athleticism, it isn’t hard to be convinced when watching Frazier and considering the modern NBA.
Can I interest you in a player that was a proven 40 percent three-point shooter at the college level with point guard skills?
Can I interest you in a player that is also 6’6 with a 7’1 wingspan and the ability to defend multiple positions?
May I present Shake Milton.
He is definitely a role player at the next level and there is some concern that he doesn’t have a natural positional fit, but I care less about that than at any time in the history of the NBA. It just doesn’t matter very much on the perimeter and Milton knows how to play. He’d be a great fit at No. 34, essentially with any NBA team.
The local product wasn’t universally seen as a top-35 pick even a few months ago but the NBA Draft Combine was kind to Okogie and a deeper dive on his tape is encouraging. In short, Okogie was miscast in a leading role at Georgia Tech, carrying an underwhelming roster as the best player. In the NBA, he’ll be unleashed as a do-it-all role player type and that makes him appealing.
He has a 7’0 wingspan with real athleticism and, even if it didn’t always pop offensively on tape, it seems safe to project Okogie as a potential plus defender given those tools. Okogie is going to have to knock down threes but he has the ability to attack close-outs and would be a very reasonable pick at No. 30 overall, if he lasts that far.
The ultimate boom-or-bust pick in this entire class. I’ve been talked off Robinson as a potential pick at No. 19 overall, at least in a world in which the Hawks select anyone but Luka Doncic at No. 3 overall. Still, Robinson is much easier to sell at No. 30 (or No. 34), simply because the risk is lower.
He was a consensus top-10 player in his high school class and, alongside Jaren Jackson Jr., was seen as the best pure rim protector. Robinson also has high-end skills that flash at times and there is no one a team can land here that has anywhere near the ceiling.
However, the floor is quite low after his Western Kentucky odyssey and scouts aren’t thrilled with his overall make-up. If he decides he wants to be a pure big man and eschew some of the perimeter skills he’s tried to flash during the draft process, I’d be easy to convert.
If you want upside, he’s your guy.
Much like Milton, Thomas is a pure role player type but one that has a place in the modern game. He makes more sense in a system alongside a primary wing ball-handler (i.e. Luka Doncic?) because of his size and overall profile but Thomas has enough shooting to make it regardless.
He is a defense-first player with a 6’10 wingspan (at only 6’3) and his switchable nature is enticing. Thomas has to convert threes at a high-30’s level to really pop but, if he does, there is a great deal of value to be had.