The 2021 NBA Draft is rapidly approaching, taking place just one week from today. SB Nation’s team sites participated in a ‘Blogger Mock Draft’, and naturally, Peachtree Hoops selected for the Atlanta Hawks at No. 20. There were no trades allowed in this production, so we were tasked with making the right choice for the Hawks at No. 20, for better or worse.
The Atlanta Hawks can seemingly go any direction they like at No. 20 on draft night. Coming off on an impressive season that led them all the way to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, they don’t have a glaring need on the roster. Perhaps the biggest hole on the team to date is the backup point guard position, but the potential return of Lou Williams could go a long way towards shoring that up. Even if the Hawks don’t bring back Williams, it’s very far from a lock that GM Travis Schlenk would entrust the backup point guard role on a team with postseason expectations to a rookie whom he selected at No. 20.
Schlenk has long best a “best player available” advocate, and there’s no reason to see why he would change things up now. Sure, Atlanta is in win now mode, but the draft is still an opportunity to add a franchise changing player, even at No. 20. While the chances you hit on a Giannis Antetokounmpo outside of the lottery, or a Nikola Jokic in the second round are mostly slim to none, Schlenk has already shown the ability to get quality talent around this area of the draft in the past.
John Collins (2017) and Kevin Huerter (2018) were brought to Atlanta by Schlenk with the No. 19 pick in their respective classes. Both of these players obviously started in the Eastern Conference Finals, and while you can argue Huerter was only starting due to the De’Andre Hunter injury, his performance validated the minutes he received, including a clutch Game 7 performance in the second round vs. the Philadelphia 76ers.
Schlenk will again be tasked with finding the right talent in this area of the board. At No. 20, the Hawks are close enough to the lottery that someone in their top-15, potentially even top-10, could slip down the board.
In the SB Nation mock, that player for us was Kai Jones, a versatile, athletic big man out of Texas. Turn on Jones’ tape for just a moment and you’ll see what has NBA front offices intrigued. He moves really well for someone who stands 6’11, and has flashed potential on both ends of the floor.
Jones, like Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, is from the Bahamas and a bit late to the game of basketball. As a sophomore, Jones shot 38% from 3. He’s a menace in transition, and flies all over the place with energy on both ends of the floor. At 20 years old, there’s still plenty of reason to believe Jones can make big jumps in terms of his all-around touch and feel on offense, and more cerebral in all areas of his game.
In the coming days, Peachtree Hoops will have a full scouting report up on Jones, so be on the lookout for that for a deeper dive on the prospect. Jones is a player that may very well not be on the board at No. 20 next week when the actual NBA Draft takes place, but in this spot, we were happy to mock him to Atlanta.
Other players considered (among those who were remaining the board at No. 20 during this exercise) include guard Jaden Springer out of Tennessee and wing Ziaire Williams from Stanford.