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NBA Mock Draft 2018: Atlanta Hawks placed in ‘an extremely enviable position’

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This would be a nice set-up for the Hawks.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Atlanta Braves Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Final mock drafts are started to be filed around the internet and that makes for a number of interesting angles surrounding the Atlanta Hawks. On Tuesday evening, recent Locked on Hawks podcast guest Sam Vecenie of The Athletic released his newest mock draft ($$) and it revealed a potentially appetizing situation for Travis Schlenk and company.

Vecenie made sure to note that the Hawks have “played the draft process tight to the vest” and, at the moment, it is very difficult to discern what Atlanta might do. Beyond that, Marvin Bagley III, a player linked to the Hawks previously, is off the board in this scenario and Vecenie outlines some of the chatter and machinations that could be taking place.

The team is high on Young, but the prevailing thought in opposing front offices is that even the Hawks think he would be a reach at No. 3. With as much draft capital as any other team, including the No. 19 pick, the Hawks might look to move back into the lottery to get Young if he slips beyond Chicago at No. 7. Jaren Jackson Jr. is another possibility, although mixed reports have emerged about Atlanta’s thoughts on him.

As noted, the buzz on Trae Young continues but, more and more, the overarching sentiment appears to be that Atlanta desires him in either a trade-down scenario from No. 3 or a trade-up scenario later in the draft. Obviously, the Hawks have a number of ways to move around the board given their variety of assets but, in this instance, Vecenie projects “an extremely enviable position” that places Luka Doncic in Atlanta.

I’m going with Doncic for a couple of reasons. The Slovenian star falling to No. 3 would create an even more interesting dilemma, as the team could simply decide to take him — again, unsurprisingly, there are mixed reports on whether general manager Travis Schlenk buys into him as an elite prospect — or the Hawks could be inundated with trade offers from teams such as Philadelphia or Dallas. The Hawks would be in an extremely enviable position. Either take the guy who has done more in Europe than any prospect his age in decades or acquire a king’s ransom from a team looking to move up.

Trade scenarios are endless and that makes things quite difficult. Still, it appears as if the Hawks would be choosing between Doncic and Jaren Jackson Jr. in this instance, and some of the late buzz pushes Atlanta in the direction of the perimeter option.

That choice would be litigated forever in Hawks Country but, later in the draft, Atlanta picks up what I would describe as a steal in the form of Elie Okobo at No. 30 overall. For full mock context, I’d recommend getting a subscription to the paywall-driven site but Vecenie notes that the Hawks “would be ecstatic to see (Okobo) fall in their lap, as he could end up going much higher than this.”

While the fit with Okobo and Doncic would be potentially tenuous on the defensive end, the value would be off the charts and the other projections help to make up for that. In any mock draft situation, it is always important to remember that no one knocks it out of the park with perfection but Vecenie is dialed in and this could represent a very rosy picture of what transpires on Thursday evening.

Stay tuned... and keep the arguments flowing.