As of the day of posting, there are just 24 days between now and the 2023 NBA Draft. The Atlanta Hawks own the 15th and 46th overall picks and look to add young basketball talent to a franchise in transition. The moment will be significant, as Quin Snyder and general manager Landry Fields both begin their first full seasons respectively as the head coach and de facto top basketball operations executive.
So who could the Hawks take in the draft? For that, we turn to the ever popular mock draft scene.
Jonathan Givony of ESPN has tapped Jalen Hood-Schifino, a guard from Indiana, as Atlanta’s first rounder. It must be noted that there is absolutely no outward indication that Trae Young isn’t in the franchises’ future plans.
The Hawks are heavily reliant on the shot-creation prowess of guard Trae Young, whose standing is somewhat of an open question after a tumultuous season that saw changes in the front office and coaching staff. With that in mind, adding another lead guard to the team could make sense, making the live-dribble passing, shot-making, and all-around aggressiveness of Hood-Schifino attractive. He’s not likely ready to be handed the keys to an NBA offense anytime soon considering the huge swings in effectiveness we saw this season, but his upside is significant for a team that can afford to be patient with his development.
For Atlanta’s second round pick, Givony selects Coleman Hawkins, a power forward from Illinois.
Sam Vecenie of the Atheltic released a mock draft after the draft lottery, and in it he opts for Arkansas shooting guard Nick Smith, Jr.
The Scout: Smith’s tape this year was not particularly impressive. But there is context behind that, as he dealt with a knee injury early in the season and was surrounded by a roster of non-shooters who stopped him from being able to attack the rim. Still, Smith shot just 37 percent from the field, 33 percent from 3 and put out some exceedingly poor defensive tape that actually resulted in him getting benched at times in the NCAA Tournament. Smith was a top-three recruit in the class last season and has real off-ball scoring creativity. His range is a bit wide. But I’m willing to bet that last season is a bit more of an aberration than people think.
The Fit: The Hawks took fewer 3s than anyone in the NBA this season on a per-shot basis and put very little pressure on the rim. Despite this, they were still a top-10 offense because Trae Young is that good of a creative force. With Bogdan Bogdanović’s injury history seeing him generally miss about 20 games per season and Dejounte Murray’s contract running out at the end of next season, it might make sense for them to look toward the combo guard market in this class, which is quite diverse in terms of skill set. But really, the Hawks can just take whoever they see as the best player available.
Via the same mock draft, the 46th overall pick has Jaylen Clark — a 6’5” wing from UCLA — heading to the Hawks.
And over at CBS Sports, we have competing mock drafts. First from Kyle Boone and Adam Finkelstein, who both also went with Hood-Schifino:
NBA teams are always on the hunt for combo guard/creators like Hood-Schifino, and he flashed enough on both ends at Indiana to push for a potential lottery spot in this year’s draft. Great frame, really good defensively, and knows how to attack and make plays off the bounce. His shot needs to become more developmentally consistent but the tools here are undeniable.
At the same outlet, Gary Parrish goes a different direction by nabbing Brice Sensabaugh — a small forward out of Ohio State:
Sensabaugh, like Hendricks, was a sub-80 prospect in the Class of 2022 who was surprisingly great in his one year at Ohio State. If he improves as a perimeter defender, the 6-6 wing could develop into the type of 3-and-D player everybody wants in the modern NBA.
There is always uncertainty projecting both who could be available past the first pick and what type of players a certain teams is targeting. But the pundits seem to think Atlanta will look to bolster their backcourt. Still, in fewer than four weeks’ time, we will know the true fate of the two picks.