Greetings! With the NBA draft on the horizon (June 27th), it’s about time to start digging on next year’s rookie class. The Atlanta Hawks have a lot of options with four picks in June — two first round picks, as they still possess their own pick (currently 18th) and will also receive the Rockets 1st-round pick (via Brooklyn) now that Houston is firmly entrenched in the playoffs. Let’s take a quick look at some potential players to focus on with those picks.
Pick #18 (currently):
Victor Oladipo (SG/SF, Indiana) - Ok, I’m cheating off of the bat. I haven’t seen a single mock draft where Oladipo falls this far, but he is the guy I am highest on (versus the general consensus) in the entire draft. He’s an elite athlete who plays great defense already and has a big-time motor. Remember Michael Kidd-Gilchrist last year? They are very similar players, and for some reason, Oladipo seems to be sliding in drafts. I’d trade up for him if it came to that.
Kelly Olynyk (C/PF, Gonzaga) - Olynyk would’ve been my pick for national POY this year in college (with apologies to my guy, Trey Burke), and he’s a legit 7-footer with various skills. The knock on him is that he is far from an elite athlete (hence his fall to the mid-1st round), but give me a Spencer Hawes-type center with skills to play with Al Horford. That would be a great fit in my opinion.
Mitch McGary (C/PF, Michigan) - BIAS ALERT! First of all, I have an unhealthy man-love for McGary from his limited work at Michigan, but secondly, he actually is the current projected pick at this spot on NBADraft.net. I frankly don’t think he will leave Michigan and declare, but with McGary and Horford up front, the opposition would never get a rebound. He certainly doesn’t have elite upside, but his motor is unquestioned, he’s a great passer, and his stock has never been higher.
Pick #20 (currently):
Jeff Withey (C, Kansas) - I’ll preface this by saying that if Atlanta went with a Olynyk/McGary type at #18, they wouldn’t go center here, but I’d love Withey with this pick. He’s a defense-only guy at the next level, but I do think he’s polished enough to step in and provide quality minutes right away, and he’d be an elite shot-blocker/rebounder from the minute he set foot in the league.
Gorgui Dieng (C, Louisville) - Basically, he’s a similar player to Withey. The only knock on Dieng at this stage is his age (currently 23, but with question marks), and he’s another guy who could change games defensively. Older guys like Dieng and Withey fall way too far in the draft in my opinion because they lack “upside”, but neither guy will be a bust pick.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG, Georgia) - He’d probably be gone by this pick, but I really like Caldwell-Pope. He scored the ball very well at Georgia during his sophomore year and has prototypical size/shooting ability from the 2-guard spot. I don’t think Danny Ferry necessarily wants another shooter with John Jenkins coming back and Lou Williams coming off of surgery at the same spot, but it would be a value pick.
This is very quick look at things, but until the draft order (and the draft pool) are set, it’s simply time to wet our appetites for the draft. Stay tuned!