The 2018 NBA Draft is nearly here and, before it arrives on June 21, the Peachtree Hoops staff gathered in roundtable fashion to answer a few pertinent questions. In the sixth and final installment, our panel weighs in on what the Atlanta Hawks should do if they stay put and draft at No. 3 overall.
Brad Rowland: If he’s available, I’d take Luka Doncic. He’s my No. 1 overall player (yes, ahead of Deandre Ayton, who won’t be available for the Hawks) and there seems to be a plausible scenario in which he falls in Atlanta’s lap. If that is the case, it becomes a no-brainer for me. Beyond that, the Hawks can’t go “wrong” with either Jaren Jackson Jr. or Marvin Bagley. Both bring different skill sets to the table but each is worthy of a No. 3 selection in a normal draft and both talented big men fall in the same tier for me. With a gun to my head, I’ll say Jackson, but it’s (very) close.
Jeff Siegel: Doncic is in a tier unto himself for me, so if they’re able to take him with the third pick, they should be doing back flips in the war room. Having played in the second-best league in the world for the past few years, he’s much more NBA-ready than the other guys at the top of the draft and still retains that All-NBA upside with his ability to get to the rim, pass at an extremely high level, and defend his position on the other end of the floor. Like any prospect, there are going to be growing pains moving up to the NBA’s athleticism and physicality, but I believe Doncic is the best player and prospect in this draft. After Doncic, I have Jackson at No. 2, just slightly ahead of Ayton, Bagley, and others, but they’re all so close that it would be a matter of individual preference at that point for Travis Schlenk and his staff.
Zach Hood: Right now, at this moment, I think I would have to take Marvin Bagley III. I have really struggled with this. On one hand, it’s impossible to ignore what Doncic, the best wing prospect in this draft by a lot, has been doing the past couple of years in Europe. It’s truly unprecedented, especially for a teenager. It’s hard to pass on Bagley after watching him destroy the best conference in college basketball on a nightly basis. Jackson has just as strong of a case to be the selection as Bagley after what he did as a freshman. Then, there’s the super freak Mo Bamba, who has a 7’10 wingspan and runs like a deer. The more NBA scouts look at him, the more he moves up boards. He hasn’t quite tied it all together on the court just yet, but he could end up being the league’s worst nightmare if he develops a little more consistency with his jump shot. I’ll say it again, I really don’t think you can go wrong with any of the top five prospects, so this was an extremely difficult choice for me. Assuming Ayton is off the board, I think Bamba represents the highest remaining ceiling, which could be higher than Ayton’s (I have Bamba at No. 1 overall on my personal board), but right now Bagley is the more polished player and the Hawks simply cannot afford to miss on this pick. Bagley seems like as safe a bet as any with the No. 3 selection.
Graham Chapple: If Luka Doncic is available at No. 3, I’m falling over desks, pushing people out of the way to get to the phone to call it in. I believe he’s the best player in this draft and, if he fell to No. 3, the Hawks should absolutely select him. If he wasn’t available, you can’t go massively wrong with Bagley or Jackson. The risk starts coming a little later with the likes of Michael Porter Jr., Trae Young etc… But between Doncic, Bagley and Jackson there’s a nice safety cushion for the Hawks in that No. 3 spot. But if Doncic is there...you have to do it.
Glen Willis: In order: Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr.. Marvin Bagley. It seems incredibly unlikely that Ayton will be available when they pick, so I won’t take up the reader’s time explaining the many possibilities of options they would need to assess if they just firmly believe that he is very unlikely to put it all together.
Xavier Cooper: I would go with Marvin Bagley first. In my mind, that’s the safest pick Atlanta can go with at No. 3. If somehow Luka Doncic slips to No. 3 (and Bagley goes No. 2), I would select him but, if both remain, I’d still lean Bagley. There seems to be no way that Ayton slips to No. 3, which is why I don’t really count him. If he did (somehow) fall to No. 3, then we all know the Hawks should grab him. I just don’t see that happening. I also really wouldn’t be opposed to Trae Young being picked at No. 3. With his shooting range and passing ability, he’s the ideal point guard for any NBA team. So for me, it’s Bagley, Doncic then Young. Ayton would be No. 1 for me if he somehow slipped to No. 3.
Josh Lane: Doncic and it is not even close for me. Docnic contains the exact skill set in which the NBA is trending. Outside of that I imagine Ayton will be gone so I imagine Jackson will be the pick after that.
Sam Meredith: Doncic is a clear number one prospect in this draft to me. Sadly, I believe the Kings hold the same opinion and will take him No. 2 overall. The Hawks did well to draft John Collins last season to get their rebuild started and picking a big man to pair with him would make plenty of sense at 3. I’d say Jaren Jackson Jr. is the best big outside of Ayton (who will be gone by No. 3) and then Mo Bamba, followed by Marvin Bagley. Should the Hawks choose to take a gamble, I think Michael Porter isn’t getting enough credit for how good he showed in high school. When healthy, Porter Jr. is going to be a monster in the NBA and I fear we will look back at this draft and see him as possibly the best player out of it in a few years.
Greg Willis: Ayton will most certainly not be available when the Hawks pick third. The Hawks should take either Doncic or Jackson, whichever player is available. If Bagley or Bamba are a surprise pick at No. 2, the Hawks should take Doncic and feel like they won the lottery without actually winning the lottery.