In advance of the 2018 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down prospects, both from the college ranks and internationally, with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks will be evaluating in the coming days. More than 50 prospects will be profiled in this space and, in the end, the goal is to inform Hawks fans prior to June 21, when the Hawks are scheduled to make four selections with the first 34 picks.
Today’s installment evaluates big man Mitchell Robinson.
It raised many eyebrows when Mitchell Robinson, a consensus top-10 national prospect, committed to Western Kentucky and things got weirder from there. In short, Robinson never set foot on an NCAA floor after a strange and winding road and, at the end of the line, the talented center declared for the 2018 NBA Draft as a likely first round prospect.
As a result of his lack of college tape, Robinson joins Anfernee Simons and, to some extent, Michael Porter Jr. as prospects that will be evaluated based heavily on high school and AAU film. Still, the workout circuit will be heavily important for Robinson, especially given his admittedly strange decision to skip the NBA Draft Combine.
It has to be noted that prospects like Robinson and Simons operate as “mystery men,” leaving them some incentive to not put anything else on tape if a first round landing spot appears likely. That was likely behind the decision to skip the combine but, in the same breath, Robinson is a potentially dominant athlete that may have benefited from at least testing in Chicago.
From an on-court standpoint, there is a lot to like about Robinson. As a 7-footer with reported 7’4 wingspan, he flashed enticing rim protection at the high school level and that came as a result of both pure burst and impressive instincts. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to the NBA game but, from a body composition standpoint, there should be no issues, especially if Robinson can rebound in the way that his measurables indicate.
Offensively, there has been some buzz (and video evidence) that Robinson is trying to extend his shooting range and, if that happens, it would be a very nice addition to his game. For now, though, he likely operates as a pick-and-roll, lob-catching finisher, using his length to tantalizing opponents with vertical gravity. Comparisons to DeAndre Jordan have emerged from that kind of profile but, even without a perfect NBA comp for his current game, Robinson’s athleticism plays up in a way that it is easy to see why NBA teams are quite interested.
From a talent standpoint, it would be easy to argue that Robinson is a lottery prospect and that was his consensus projection before essentially taking the year off from organized basketball. There have been a few controversial choices from Robinson and his advisors in the last 12 months but, provided those do not raise red flags from NBA scouts and front office members, it would be justifiable to see him land in the top 15-20 picks when June 21 arrives.
The Atlanta Hawks will, of course, be on the clock at No. 19 overall and that would be in the center of Robinson’s theoretical draft range. It would be a surprise to many if the wildly talented 7-footer slipped to No. 30 overall and, if he did, it might set off alarm bells of an issue that isn’t publicly available.
Still, Robinson would seemingly make a ton of sense for Atlanta at No. 19, especially if the Hawks went in the direction of Luka Doncic (or Trae Young) with the No. 3 overall pick. In the event that the Hawks select a big man in the mold of Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson Jr. or Mo Bamba at No. 3, Robinson would make less sense, simply because he is a pure center prospect. With that said, Travis Schlenk has been vocal about simply taking the best player available and one could seriously evaluate Robinson and come to the conclusion that he should be a lottery pick.
His range of outcomes is (very) wide and that comes with the territory for a player that didn’t perform at the college level. Mitchell Robinson does bring a healthy dose of upside to the table, though, and the rebuilding Hawks could certainly center on that in his evaluation.