The 2019 NBA Draft order is set and, for the Atlanta Hawks, it isn’t ideal when compared to pre-lottery expectations. Still, Travis Schlenk and his staff now understand what they’re dealing with and, moments after the ping-pong balls stopped bouncing, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony released his first post-lottery mock draft.
There will be plenty of movement in the coming days but, for now, the Hawks are projected to land Duke forward Cameron Reddish at No. 8 overall.
Reddish is one of the biggest enigmas of this draft class, as he rarely produced up to his talent level as a freshman and mysteriously missed an NCAA tournament game. Still, his combination of size, length, fluidity and perimeter shooting ability is highly intriguing in a draft that is lacking deep star power.
In Atlanta, Reddish would find an ideal situation where he wouldn’t be asked to carry too heavy of a scoring load immediately alongside Trae Young and the rest of Atlanta’s promising young core -- yet he would still being able to contribute significantly with his perimeter shooting, passing and defensive versatility.
This isn’t a surprising projection in any way, as the Hawks have been linked to Reddish in the past and he might be available when Atlanta comes on the clock in late June. After an impressive pre-college run at the highest levels of high school basketball, Reddish largely disappointed this season, famously posting sub-40 percent shooting from the floor and regularly fading into the background in Durham. Still, he presents theoretical upside if NBA teams believe he can recapture his pre-college mojo and Atlanta might be willing to roll the dice a bit with the presence of a second lottery pick.
Speaking of the second selection, ESPN projects Texas center Jaxson Hayes to Atlanta at No. 10 overall.
Hayes came into the season as a complete unknown after hitting a significant growth spurt in high school and registering little productivity prior to college. He proved to be a high-end NBA prospect early on, thanks to his phenomenal physical tools, mobility and instincts on both ends of the floor, cementing himself as the top center prospect in the draft.
Hayes’ lack of experience, relatively raw offensive game and still developing feel will likely relegate him to project status for most NBA teams, but that shouldn’t be too much of a deterrent at this point in the draft.
The Hawks have been developing John Collins at both big spots; Hayes could fit well there and become an ideal pick-and-roll partner for Trae Young.
Hayes isn’t an ideal fit with John Collins, at least in my view, but he does represent an intriguing skill set that could be appealing to the Hawks in what is considered to be a “down” draft. In fact, Hayes is considered by some as the top pure center prospect available and, when seeking value in this class, that might be an opportunity for the Hawks.
As noted here, he is raw at this stage and the Hawks might want more present-day polish but, all things considered, Reddish and Hayes would bring a talented combination to the table in the back half of the lottery.
Stay tuned for more NBA Draft coverage as June 20 nears.