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NBA Mock Draft: Could DeAndre Hunter fall to the Hawks at No. 8 overall?

NCAA Men’s Final Four - Previews Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Mock draft season is here in earnest, with the NBA Draft Lottery now in the rear view mirror. The ping-pong balls didn’t bounce in ideal fashion for the Atlanta Hawks but, at the same time, the franchise still has two top-10 picks to work with and Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated outlined an interesting scenario in his first post-lottery mock draft.

While the consensus indicates that Virginia forward DeAndre Hunter is likely to be off the board at No. 8 overall, Woo projects him to fall in Atlanta’s lap.

While Hunter is one of the more NBA-ready players likely to be selected in the lottery, the question of where his ceiling lies makes it more difficult to see a rebuilding team investing in him too early on in the draft. Still, Atlanta would be an ostensibly promising fit for him, granting him a chance to play off of gifted shot-creator Trae Young. Hunter is a big, physical defender who has expanded his game offensively, although he has limitations playing off the dribble. The Hawks are set in the backcourt for now, and net a potentially valuable role player with this pick.

As noted here, Hunter does have upside concerns in the eyes of some and, if the actual draft falls the way Woo projects, the Hawks would benefit. Here, the trio of Cam Reddish, Coby White and Darius Garland are all selected ahead of Hunter to make it happen but the Virginia standout would be a snug fit with the Hawks, with his versatile nature defensively and ability to fill in the gaps on the offensive end.

Elsewhere, Woo projects the Hawks to land Georgia center Goga Bitadze with the No. 10 pick, noting that “his high-level experience, size and natural scoring ability put him on good footing as he begins his NBA career, and it feels increasingly likely he lands somewhere in the late lottery.”

That may feel high at this (early) stage, but Bitadze has fans within the league and he does bring an intriguing skill set to the table. Other mock drafts project the Hawks to potentially target Texas big man Jaxson Hayes in the same range but, with the youngster off the table in this scenario, Atlanta is projected to select Bitadze with Sekou Doumbouya, Nassir Little and others still available.

As always, it is too early to panic or worry too much about mock drafts but, as the early opinions emerge, intrigue abounds. Stay tuned.