A great deal of attention has already been paid to what the Atlanta Hawks might do with their own first round pick in June and, quite honestly, a lot more scrutiny will be arriving in the coming weeks. However, Travis Schlenk and company could be evaluating as many as four additional selections in the 2019 NBA Draft and that makes for myriad possibilities.
To that end, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic released an updated mock draft on Tuesday and, while the entire thing is worth reading (with paywall caveats), two interesting names emerged for the Hawks. Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver was projected to Atlanta with the No. 5 overall pick and that does not come as anything even approaching a surprise. From there, however, the Hawks landed French forward Sekou Doumbouya with the No. 9 overall pick, acquired from Dallas.
The piece mentions that “Doumbouya had a tough start to the season, struggling to adjust to high-level pro basketball in France in the first three months of his season.” From there, though, Vecenie notes that he is “encouraged that Doumbouya has figured things out quickly,” but there are still questions concerning “how ready for the NBA he is simply due to his inexperience at high levels to this stage.”
In tying the 6’9 forward to the Hawks, Vecenie cites the presence of Atlanta’s two lottery picks (and five overall selections) in this scenario, outlining a strong position to take something of a flyer on a highly intriguing talent. Given that Schlenk and company would be taking a relatively safe prospect in Culver at No. 5 overall, this makes a lot of sense and, in some circles, Doumbouya is seen as a top-five talent, albeit one that might take time to develop in the NBA.
Later, the Hawks landed Washington wing Matisse Thybulle at No. 35 overall with the following explanation.
Thybulle was one of the best defenders in college basketball this season, posting hitherto unseen combined block/steal rates. For many, that places him within the conversation for the first round. I’m a bit less sold, though. First, during Thybulle’s freshman and sophomore seasons, he was only about an average man-to-man defender. It was once he got put into Mike Hopkins 2-3 zone that he became a monster.
He clearly has amazing help defense instincts, but I wonder if his skinny frame will get pushed around a bit more often than NBA teams would like. Beyond that, his offense just hasn’t quite developed in the way you’d hope despite a skill set that would make you believe he should be averaging points per game. Still, Atlanta has use for elite level defenders next to Trae Young.
As noted here, Thybulle is an interesting evaluation given the system in which he was deployed at the college level, but his defensive metrics are off the charts and that poses an interesting fit. The Hawks have leaned offense to this point in the Schlenk era but, at some point, the team will need high-end defensive talent and some believe Thybulle should be a lock as a first-round pick given his potential contributions on that end of the floor.
With any mock draft in late April (before the draft order is even set), this should be taken as simply an intriguing data point, with a long way to go before full-blown opinions can be set. Still, the combination of Culver and Doumbouya in the lottery would be logical if nothing else, and Thybulle might be a legitimate heist if he was to fall to No. 35 overall.