The 2019 NBA Draft remains five months away and nearly four months will pass before the draft lottery even arrives. Still, there is always chatter surrounding what might transpire and, given the current trajectory of the Atlanta Hawks, the buzz about the upcoming draft class never actually stopped, even as the regular season began to unfold.
With that in mind, we don’t know where the Hawks will be picking in June but, with the likelihood of two lottery picks (including one from Dallas as part of the Luka Doncic-Trae Young swap), there are very interesting possibilities to digest. One such scenario came to pass in a recent mock draft from Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation, who projects the Hawks to land Duke forward Cameron Reddish with the No. 5 overall selection.
Reddish passes the eye-test at first glance as a sweet-shooting wing with 7’1 wingspan who feels like a perfect fit in today’s NBA. While that still may be true, his struggles at Duke this season have been undeniable. Playing third fiddle to Williamson and Barrett, Reddish has had a difficult time finding his place in the offense, going cold for long stretches with his shot and simply having too many games where he fails to make an impact. He lacks explosiveness around the basket and is only shooting 41 percent on two-pointers. NBA teams will wonder if he has the mentality and feel for the game to be a consistent difference-maker.
At the same time, his combination of size, shooting, and length gives him plenty of margin for error. He’s one of the best three-point shooters in this class and has been using those long arms to get into passing lanes and rack up steals all season. If he puts it all together during the stretch run, his ceiling is as high as No. 2 in this draft.
Reddish is operating as the “other” prospect for Duke this season, with projected No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson garnering all kinds of attention and likely No. 2 pick R.J. Barrett taking a lot of oxygen on the offensive end. As a result (and as O’Donnell notes), Reddish hasn’t been incredibly consistent this season, appearing to struggle with efficiency and the adaptation to a new, supporting role.
With that said, this is a bizarre environment in which to evaluate a lottery pick and his situation shouldn’t take away from the fact that Reddish is a top-five talent in this class. Defensively, his 7’1 wingspan is tantalizing and, even if he slots in as something of a supporting talent on the other end of the floor, Reddish brings real upside that the Hawks could use as a two-way force.
Elsewhere, this mock scenario projects the Hawks to use the pick from Dallas to select Indiana wing Romeo Langford with the No. 9 overall pick.
Langford was a prodigious high school scorer in Indiana who chose to stay home and play for the Hoosiers. He’s lived up the hype for the most part, averaging 18 points per game and showcasing some truly craft scoring moves inside the arc. He’s also had an impact defensively, where has the length (6’11 wingspan) and the frame to eventually grow into the type of switchable perimeter defender the NBA covets.
There’s only one major problem: Langford is shooting just 22 percent from three-point range. If an NBA team thinks it can fix his shot with an easy mechanical change, he should end up going much higher than this. If the shot doesn’t come around, he may ultimately need to hone his playmaking chops and start being used more on-the-ball.
Langford is another interesting evaluation, as he has a defined swing skill in the form of his jump shot. No one can say for sure whether the physically gifted wing will be able to knock down shots from the perimeter on a consistent basis, but Langford does bring good length and defensive projection to the table, to go along with the ability to create his own shot and finish in traffic.
It may seem odd (at least to some) that the Hawks would select a wing and a forward with two top-10 picks, particularly as the team still employs John Collins (who many view as a 4), Kevin Huerter and Taurean Prince. Still, this is a draft class that is overwhelmingly centered on players at the 2 through 4 spots (including Williamson, Barrett, Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, North Carolina’s Nassir Little, Virginia’s De’’Andre Hunter and others), meaning that most of the value arrives at that particular position. Beyond that, the current NBA landscape dictates that it would be virtually impossible to have too many wings and having a player like Reddish would unlock many doors in terms of versatility.
Obviously, this is a mock scenario in January and shouldn’t be taken with a ton of seriousness. In the same breath, a draft-night takeaway of Reddish and Langford seems both realistic and reasonable, meaning that Hawks fans can think about what it might look like if the stars aligned.