Until the lottery occurs in mid-May, everything is up in the air for teams at the top of the 2019 NBA Draft. That reality leads to a ton of uncertainty for the Atlanta Hawks, with the franchise potentially having a single selection outside the top five or, in a best-case scenario, a pair of lottery selections with their own pick jumping into the top four.
With that in mind, Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (the site’s lead draft analyst) put together an intriguing exercise this week, with the objective to unearth “a player each lottery franchise could unexpectedly select if the obvious top options were unavailable.” This premise could provide a number of outcomes for the Hawks but, in this case, Wasserman settled on Oregon center Bol Bol.
What if Bol Bol’s foot checks out fine by medical reports and doctors?
He was making a top-five case before the fracture, having averaged 21.0 points while shooting 13-of-25 from behind the arc.
The Atlanta Hawks could have two top-10 picks, owning the Dallas Mavericks’ top-five protected first-rounder. With one of those selections, it could make sense for Atlanta to gamble on the upside tied to Bol’s 7’2” size, effortless shooting range, post scoring fluidity, finishing and shot-blocking.
John Collins could enjoy the space Bol creates by stretching the floor from the 5 position. He’d also give Trae Young an enormous target off pick-and-rolls, pops and penetration.
And though Atlanta’s coaching staff would have to work on his defensive effort and reads, Bol’s monster 7’8” wingspan would be useful in rim protection.
There are a number of factors in play here, beginning with Wasserman’s assertion that Bol would have to be deemed healthy and (relatively) risk-free from a medical standpoint. The seven-footer appeared in only nine college games before suffering a season-ending foot injury but, prior to the ailment, some considered Bol a potential top-five pick with most projecting a position in the lottery.
With that box checked here, the decision would shift to what Bol can do on the floor. Peachtree Hoops will have a deeper dive (as part of our scouting report series) into his strengths and weaknesses later in the process but, on a broader level, Bol is a wildly intriguing offensive prospect with the potential ability to space the floor and score efficiently near the rim. Defensively, Bol’s shot-blocking ability is tantalizing but, in short, he is an absolute mess in space and, at least at the college level, was a maddening defender to evaluate as a result.
If the theory of Bol came together as a seven-footer with shooting ability and rim protection, that would make perfect sense for the Hawks, particularly when paired with John Collins as a dynamic athlete and rim-runner. However, it would be a risky proposition to assume health for Bol and, simply put, the team would need to believe in defensive acumen that just isn’t anywhere to be seen on tape.
Bol’s potential fit has been a popular notion in Atlanta for a long time and it is (very) easy to see why, simply because his package of traits is wildly attractive. There are question marks, too, but this hypothetical should definitely excite some Hawks fans dreaming of the upside that he could bring if the pieces come together.