The NBA Mock Draft wheel continues to spin and, with less than 60 hours until “game time,” the Atlanta Hawks come away with an interesting quartet of players in the latest from Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated.
Before getting into the specific picks, Woo brings word on the landscape surrounding Atlanta’s options at No. 3 overall, particularly with regard to trade possibilities, Trae Young and more.
Armed with four desirable picks, the Hawks have also explored trade options for No. 3, including the potential of moving down. Atlanta is said to be conflicted about Luka Doncic, and while they do have interest in Trae Young, they likely won’t select him unless they’re able to move down.
The situation is complicated by Dennis Schröder, who the team has made available for trades, according to league sources. He has been difficult for the Hawks to move due to concerns about his attitude and the $46 million remaining on his contract through 2021. Perhaps packaging their other draft picks could help convince a team to take Schröder, given he’s just 24, but finding a deal to move down and select Young would effectively kill Atlanta’s leverage, and make it that much harder to secure a passable return.
There is no question that selecting Young, even in a trade-down scenario, would be tough with Schröder on the roster, if only because the two players simply couldn’t function together on the floor defensively. However, the Hawks have been vocal about taking the best player available and that throws a wrench in the discussions, particularly if they choose to center on Young.
Still, the actual pick in this mock scenario is Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr.
If they keep the pick, Jackson’s defensive versatility and potential as an inside-out scorer would be a terrific fit with incumbent John Collins, who prefers to rebound and bang on the inside. Some scouts think he could end up as the best player in the draft when it’s all said and done.
It comes as no surprise that the Hawks would go in that direction, even if it is controversial in a world in which Luka Doncic remains on the board. Jackson Jr. is the best defensive prospect in the class, however, and GM Travis Schlenk has been clear in the team’s desire to add two-way talent. That is only magnified by the addition of a defense-first head coach in Lloyd Pierce and, if the Hawks believe in Jackson Jr.’s offensive acumen, a pairing makes sense.
Later in the draft, the Hawks strike a strong balance at No. 30 and No. 34, selecting Tulane’s Melvin Frazier (a personal favorite of mine) and high school guard Anfernee Simons. Further information on both players can be found in our pre-draft scouting report series but, at No. 19 overall, Woo’s mock scenario unearths Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo.
It’s unlikely the Hawks keep all four of their picks, but as they continue charting a direction it makes sense to add another ball-handler if Dennis Schröder isn’t in their long term plans. DiVincenzo’s athleticism, energy and ability to fill in at both backcourt spots has endeared him to teams after his breakout showing in March and at the combine, and it wouldn’t be a total shock to see him drafted a bit higher than this.
If he shoots the ball a bit more consistently, he could be more than just a role player. He has to improve as a man-to-man defender and doesn’t consistently create great shots for himself, but he knows how to play with others and offers a bankable degree of value.
DiVincenzo’s stock has been soaring since March and, even if this is a bit higher than I would personally select the NCAA Tournament hero, it wouldn’t be egregious in the slightest. He brings a ton of offensive potential to the table and, unlike some offense-first types in this class, DiVincenzo has the athleticism to develop into a solid defender in time.
As always, this scenario represents just one of many possibilities for what transpires on June 21 but it does brings some interesting questions to the forefront.