The Atlanta Hawks were rumored to be moving up in the 2021 NBA Draft earlier in the day, but wound up staying put with the selection of Jalen Johnson, a high upside forward out of Duke, with the No. 20 overall pick.
Johnson had an up and down freshman season with the Blue Devils that ended when he opted out of the remainder of the season in mid-February.
At 6’9, Johnson is an impressive athlete for a combo forward, and was one of the more high upside options remaining on the board at this stage. With John Collins’ future somewhat up in the air, Atlanta adds another talented forward to the mix.
The pick however should not be viewed as something related to Collins, as he’s a raw product who likely isn’t ready to be a positive on an NBA court in the near future. Addidtionally, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN has hinted the Hawks may be able to retain Collins of late.
Woj says on the broadcast that there's optimism the Hawks and John Collins will reach a deal at the start of free agency.— Zach Hood (@zhood_) July 30, 2021
Hawks GM Travis Schlenk adds more talent to the arsenal, sticking to his best player available strategy. Johnson was No. 6 on ESPN’s big board in February when he opted out, and slipped down the board as the process unfolded for whatever reason.
Johnson will likely be at in Las Vegas at Summer League unless there’s an injury that hasn’t been revealed.