With hours until the 2018 NBA Draft finally begins, anything can happen and that is especially applies to the Atlanta Hawks. The team has been linked to a number of candidates for the No. 3 overall pick and, beyond that, trade winds are blowing at this stage in the process.
However, Jonathan Givony of ESPN released an updated mock draft on Thursday morning and Luka Doncic is (still) the pick at No. 3 overall. There is a very interesting tidbit of information, though, when it comes to the decision-making process.
Jaren Jackson Jr. was once viewed as a lock at No. 3, but there was a strong push within the organization to consider other alternatives here as well -- specifically the star power of Luka Doncic, who sources say is a favorite of ownership. Trading down and selecting Trae Young may end up being a compromise.
Givony notes that Doncic “is a favorite of ownership” and that could be the biggest impetus for his selection. As someone who ranks Doncic as the top player available, the result here is easy to endorse. If true (and that is a big if), however, it could be troublesome in the same breath.
In short, controlling owner Tony Ressler gave the keys to Travis Schlenk to engineer Atlanta’s rebuild and it is the best course of action for ownership to cede basketball decision-making power to the general manager. With matters that have huge financial ramifications in the immediate time frame (trades, free agent signings, etc.), ownership approval is obviously needed. A draft pick, however, is paid the same amount regardless and buzz like this won’t necessarily be kind to the “meddling owner” label some have attributed locally in the wake of comments (remember Paul Millsap?) over the last two years.
Luka Doncic might be the right pick, Jaren Jackson Jr. would look good in a Hawks uniform, Marvin Bagley and Mo Bamba have incredible appeal, and even Trae Young has the talent to make any front office appear intelligent if everything comes together. It would probably be wise to allow the front office to pull the trigger, though, and they should do so by selecting the best player available, removing thoughts of marketability, “buzz” or other factors.