The HawksHoop staff, along with the help of some friends of the family, went 5-on-5 about the best prospects in the draft and who the Hawks should and shouldn’t take.
1. Who will be the best player from this draft in 5 years?
Bo Churney: Victor Oladipo. He’s extremely athletic and has the motor to match, which likely gives him the best odds of anyone from this draft of being an All-Star in the future. He may be a little short at 6’4″, but his 6’9″ wingspan and 215-pound frame help make up for that. In the NBA, his game could be very similar to Dwyane Wade, though obviously not at that high of a level.
Chris Barnewall: Nerlens Noel, yes it might be the cop out answer but it’s really hard to go against a defensive minded big man these days. Especially in a draft widely considered weak by many. The guy has a 7’4″ wingspan which means he’s as wide as Roy Hibbert is tall. With his explosiveness and length I could see him being great in the PnR on offense and a great rim defender on defense for years to come.
Cole Patty: Nerlens Noel is the one guy who can be a consistent impact player yearly in this draft. Sure there are the ACL questions, but even Alex Len – who is the other rumored number one – has fused ankles. So long as there is a bounce back from injury, Noel will be just fine.
Jameson Draper: There will be varying opinions on this question, but it’s going to be Victor Oladipo. He’s crazy athletic, a great rebounder and defender, explosive and one of the biggest competitors in the game (I actually heard from a friend at Indiana that Oladipo would sit in class watching his game tape). He’s a hair small for a shooting guard, but makes up for it with tremendous athleticism. In five years, it’s reasonable to think he can be the best player of a playoff team.
Blake Potash: Nerlens Noel. He is pretty clearly the best prospect in this class with size, athleticism and a knack for defense. His numbers at Kentucky rivaled Anthony Davis, who had a terrific rookie season. If Noel fully recovers from the ACL injury he should become an all-star caliber player averaging something around 17-10-3 with blocks.
2. Should the Hawks consider trading up?
Churney: If they can package the 17th and 18th picks and somehow get into the top five, then I think they should. I don’t think that is likely, however, so they should probably just hold on to their picks.
Barnewall: No they shouldn’t. There’s no young player that the Hawks desperately need in this draft.
Patty: Say a potential impact player, such as Oladipo or Noel, falls then yes the Hawks should. If that isn’t the case then no, the Hawks need to fill roster spots and a guy that is the ninth best prospect in this draft isn’t vastly better than the 17th. If the Noel medical red flag happens though, he could easily shine with his potential fit with Horford.
Draper: Nope. The players they would trade up for this year will be the same caliber as players in the late-teens in next year’s draft.
Potash: I would advise against it. Their is a lack of upside in the lottery of this draft and losing either a draft pick next year or one/both of the first rounders this year is not worth getting say Kentavious Caldwell-Pope over Sergey Karasev.
3. Who is the one player the Hawks should avoid?
Churney: Shabazz Muhammad. He could still be a very good player in the NBA, but his poor work ethic would seem to make him a poor fit under new coach Mike Budenholzer. In terms of shooting guard/small forwards, I’d much rather have Sergey Karasev, Jamaal Franklin, or Reggie Bullock over Shabazz at these two picks.
Barnewall: Rudy Gobert is someone I would avoid like the plague if I were the Hawks. He should be hanging around at the time of the Hawks pick and it’s possible the Hawks would be willing to take the Frenchman because they could pair him next to Al Horford. That said, he’s a total project and the Hawks don’t need projects.
Patty: First off, if the Hawks are just going for a back up, they should avoid a point guard in the first round with the depth at that position. Outside of that position, it is hard to understand the Mason Plumlee to Atlanta hype. He seems like the worst possible fit with Horford in this draft, so some can’t see the Hawks picking him if Gorgui Dieng is still on the board.
Draper: Mason Plumlee. It might be a moot point, as by the time the Hawks make their pick Plumlee could already be of the board. But if he’s still available, the Hawks shouldn’t take him. He has athleticism and a high basketball IQ (of course he does – he went to Duke), but will take too long to develop and that’s not something the Hawks should settle for at 17 or 18. He could be a serviceable big off the bench in the future, but the pool of players in the mid-first round will have many better options.
Potash: Michael Carter-Williams. Sure MCW’s 6’6″ stature is enticing at the position, but he shot just 39% this past season and turned the ball over at a rate of 22%. Also it is notable that coming Jim Boeheim’s zone does not bode well for defenders at the NBA level.
4. Which player is the best option at the 17th pick?
Churney: Gorgui Dieng. He has everything you want for a guy playing next to Al Horford: he can protect the rim, finishes around the basket well, can step out and hit a jumper, and is a good and willing passer. He may be a little old at 23, but he’d fit in too well with this squad for the Hawks to pass on him.
Barnewall: Shabazz Muhammad, this is a bit of a reach because it’s very possible Muhammad won’t be available for the Hawks to take. It’s also very possible that Muhammad falls all the way to this point of the draft. Muhammad got a very bad reputation this season for maturity, being incredibly inefficient, and nowhere near as good as he was projected to be in high school. However, off the catch Muhammad is a respectable 40% jumpshooter and I could see that working with a Hawks team who’s offense was best last season when moving off ball.
Patty: The Hawks will probably be hoping in state talent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is still there by 17, and if so he is easily the pick. He could be long gone at the ninth pick however, so Jamaal Franklin is the pick here. Franklin can play a role within Atlanta, and can potentially flourish with the shooting that may be built around him.
Draper: Dieng. I don’t see why Dieng isn’t higher on mock drafts or on teams’ draft boards, but it should play out perfectly for the Hawks. Dieng – a great defender – is not known for his offensive abilities, but is actually a very good passer and jump shooter. He’d be a great pick up for the Hawks.
Potash: Dieng. With the likely departure of Josh Smith, the Hawks need to find someone to play alongside Al Horford. Dieng will be an immediate factor on the defensive end as a rim protector while throwing in an improving mid-range shot and decent passing skills. He is 23 years old, but also “NBA ready” and a safe pick.
5. Which player is the best option at the 18th pick?
Churney: I think the Hawks will have a starting point guard next season (either Teague or the 5% chance at CP3), so I think they should go a wing here and take Jamaal Franklin if he’s still on the board. As Cole said in his draft profile, Franklin has the tools to be a positive on both ends of the floor, despite his poor jump-shooting. Thought it likely wouldn’t be the team’s most used lineup, a Franklin-Horford-Dieng frontcourt trio would be great at rebounding and defense, all while still possessing effective floor spacing.
Barnewall: Shane Larkin, not as much of a reach but Larkin is projected by Draft Express to be taken at 16 right before the Hawks pick. Larkin is crazy accurate off the dribble, allowing him to be great in the pick-and-roll (averaged 1.004 points per possession on the PnR) and showed an increase in offensive efficiency last season raising his true-shooting percentage to 60%. Larkin would be a nice fit for the Hawks if they eventually have to blow up the team for any reason; they’ll already have a young point guard to work with. If they don’t have to blow it up, they’ll have a nice scoring point guard to go to off the bench.
Patty: Gorgui Dieng and Rudy Gobert is the debate here, but with roster spots to fill Dieng is likely the answer. Dieng should fit well with Horford on both ends of the court and is a late bloomer at 23. Many ask questions about his age but Plumlee is the same age and Olynyk is only one year younger, so it is tough to understand why the Hawks would pick either when they are the same age as Dieng.
Draper: Larkin. He’s a very athletic guard, and even though he’s an average defender at best, he was still a great team leader at Miami; that’s something the Hawks could use this upcoming season.
Potash: Tim Hardaway Jr. I seem to be higher on Tim Hardaway Jr. than most but there’s a lot of value in a quality scorer who can also defend at least two positions. He shot a respectable 38% from 3-point range, as well as 71% at the rim. Atlanta could use extra production from the wing, especially if Jeff Teague doesn’t return.