It is NBA Draft week and and the excitement will continue to build until Thursday, June 20. At the very least, the Atlanta Hawks are one of the more interesting teams in the league to monitor — especially with six draft picks and buzz about movement — and that also means that mock drafts will be generating quite a bit of attention.
One such mock arrived on Monday morning, with Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated projecting the Hawks to select Duke forward Cam Reddish... if Atlanta chooses to stay at No. 8 overall.
Atlanta continues to remain active in exploring all its options with six draft picks in hand, and packaging Nos. 8 and 10 to move up to No. 4 or No. 5 remains a possibility. Jarrett Culver and De’Andre Hunter are the names that come up most often in those scenarios, and right now it seems unlikely either player falls to No. 8. The Hawks won’t roster all these rookies, and based on their recent history, seem to be comfortable deferring draft assets into future options, as well.
Woo previously reported interest from the Hawks in Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver and, within this same mock draft, references real buzz that Atlanta could be targeting Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter. These have been the two trade-up candidates for the Hawks as long as the rumor has been circulating that they’re looking to grab a top-five pick.
If they do stay put, Reddish makes sense for the team at No. 8. His fit with the Hawks is relatively seamless, if he can put it all together. Says Woo:
Reddish would be a positive fit in Atlanta, and while the Hawks have been linked to some extent with pretty much everyone in the lottery who isn’t a point guard, it would be a low-pressure development situation for him, where he can play off of Trae Young and others. Still, teams are all over the board with their evaluations of Reddish: his statistics and performance at Duke unto themselves were uninspiring, and it would be easier to buy into him if he simply showed up to play on a more consistent basis. He floats in and out of games and seemed comfortable just fitting into the background, which would be more palatable if his play had been better. At any rate, with the first seven players appearing to have settled in in some order, Reddish’s range seems to begin here.
All told, Reddish continues to be the widely projected fit at No. 8 overall, particularly if the top seven goes according to plan.
Elsewhere, Woo sends Texas big man Jaxson Hayes to the Hawks with the No. 10 pick, while (again) noting the uncertainty with where the team will actually be selecting on draft night.
Hayes’s combination of physical tools and defensive upside have put him in the late lottery mix, and his range seems to begin with the second Atlanta pick at No. 10. Granted, it’s not clear whether Atlanta will make this pick or if it moves, but he could be someone teams target at this spot. He’s not a perfect fit with the Hawks unless you believe in his ability to eventually knock down open threes—spacing is going to be imperative going forward here—but in the late lottery, the upside with him is going to be enough.
While Hayes shouldn’t contribute much immediately, he might be closer to NBA-ready than perception suggests: if he adds strength to his above-average frame and continues to work on fundamentals, he should be able to make an impact as a defender and rim-rummer at some point on his rookie contract. He does come with some risk due to iffy rebounding numbers and the fact he’s so raw.
This is a departure from Woo’s last iteration, where he projected the Hawks to tab Goga Bitadze, and that is a widely debated head-to-head battle in advance of the draft. As noted here, Hayes is “not a perfect fit with the Hawks” but, if Atlanta views him as the best player available, the fit isn’t so dire that Travis Schlenk and company would avoid Hayes entirely, even if many would tab Bitadze (or another forward) instead.
At No. 17, Woo projects the Hawks to select Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke. From a value perspective, that would be fantastic for Atlanta but, in contrast, the selection of Hayes might make things interesting and/or challenging. The lack of shooting involved with the Texas big man could prove difficult when factoring in Clarke’s issues in that area and, at some point, diminishing returns could arrive with John Collins penciled in as one of the team’s centerpieces.
Finally, Atlanta is projected to make six picks in the mock draft, even with full acknowledgement that no one expects the Hawks to actually stay put at 8/10/17/35/41/44 between now and June 20. Still, the Hawks take a couple of upside swings on high school forward Darius Bazley and Missouri center Jontay Porter before stashing Deividas Sirvydis, which would certainly make Atlanta’s fan base happy on draft night.
As always, mock drafts are food for thought and shouldn’t be taken as gospel, particularly when there is so much uncertainty about Atlanta’s draft plans. This wouldn’t be a bad overall scenario, however, and more chatter will emerge in the coming hours.