The 2019-20 NBA season is officially in the books, with the Los Angeles Lakers defeating the Miami Heat and claiming the Larry O’Brien Trophy. With that, all 30 teams are now in offseason mode, even while acknowledging that eight franchises — including the Atlanta Hawks — have been here for more than seven months. Still, the end of the NBA Finals represents the unofficial kickoff to full-fledged mock draft season and, on Tuesday, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic released a new projection.
With the No. 6 pick, Vecenie projects the Hawks to land Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton, carrying that projection over from his previous mock.
This one also does not change. What I said then still stands this pick fills two legitimate needs for the Hawks. First and foremost, they desperately need a long-term answer as a backup point guard next to Young. Haliburton can handle that role, something that significantly hindered the Hawks last year if you look at Young’s on/off numbers. Second, Haliburton would absolutely excel at playing with Young. He’s a terrific shooter off the catch, having hit 41.9 percent of his 3s this season. Defensively, he’s somewhat weak on-ball, but he’s a monstrous team defender who constantly lives in passing lanes and is exceptionally reactionary to what happens around him.
Vecenie isn’t the only one projecting Haliburton to Atlanta in what is a popular early pairing between player and franchise. Still, he makes sure to note that other players will be in consideration, while also keeping trade possibilities firmly on the table.
The Hawks will also be in the mix for other wings such as Okoro, Vassell, and more. Also, teams have noted not to count out head of basketball ops Travis Schlenk in trade discussions, as he tends to be aggressive in making moves to acquire the exact players that he wants on draft day.
It almost goes without saying that the Hawks have numerous options at No. 6 and, on top of that, there is some level of uncertainty with what teams like the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers may do ahead of them. Haliburton is an interesting fit, though, particularly if Schlenk and Atlanta’s front office feels as though he could run the second unit when Young rests. There are certainly concerns about Haliburton’s on-ball defense and individual creation as a scorer, but he is a high-IQ prospect that can potentially serve as a valuable role player in the NBA.
In the coming days, mock drafts will pour in, projecting different players to Atlanta. Beyond that, there is a lot of time for shifting with more than a month until the draft (finally) arrives. While every mock projection won’t be dissected in this space, this is an interesting pairing put forth by a credible analyst, setting the groundwork for discussions (and arguments) on all sides.