2018 NBA Draft: Hawks Should Take Jaren Jackson Jr. 3rd Overall

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15: NBA Draft Prospect, Jaren Jackson Jr. poses for a portrait during the 2018 NBA Combine circuit on May 15, 2018 at the Intercontinental Hotel Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15: NBA Draft Prospect, Jaren Jackson Jr. poses for a portrait during the 2018 NBA Combine circuit on May 15, 2018 at the Intercontinental Hotel Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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After about 45 minutes of snail-paced buildup to the most important 15 minutes of the Atlanta Hawks season, the draft lottery order started to get laid out.

Denver at 14 Clippers at 13 and 12 Charlotte at 11 and so on all the way until the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns finish out a surprisingly lucky draft for Hawks fans.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “after Ayton and Doncic there’s nobody worth taking,” or “we should just take Bagley, he dominated at Duke.”

What if I told you there was a guy who could defend as well as anyone in this draft, shoot threes at a more than respectable rate and fills a position of need. Let me introduce you to Jaren Jackson Jr., a should-be center from Michigan State who averaged 3 blocks a game and is barely old enough to drive.

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Jackson Jr. was wasted at Michigan State, often being shoehorned into playing the 4 when he would absolutely thrive playing center. He stands 6-11 and 242 pounds, enough size to stay strong inside but agile enough to keep up when running the floor. If you’re the type of person who’s only looking at his points and rebounds per game and shrugging, let’s put them into perspective.

Marvin Bagley III took 13.3 attempts a game and played nearly 34 minutes a game. Jaren Jackson Jr. took 6.6 attempts a game and played 22 minutes a game. Jackson was given very little opportunity to show how great he could be and his upside could still be unrealized.

He shot nearly 40% on 2.7 attempts per game from 3 in college and is probably the only center (besides Ayton) that can fit almost perfectly next to Collins.

If you’re not totally sold on his shooting ability, he is an elite post scorer as well, albeit in a limited opportunity at MSU. Given free rein on a team like Atlanta, he might be able to increase his offense skill set by much more than what he already has.

John Collins was an absolute phenom in his rookie season with the Hawks (and was rewarded with an All-Rookie Second Team selection), but he has put us in an awkward position in terms of who to draft. He can jump out of the arena and rebound at a respectable rate, but he can’t space the floor consistently and needs to really pick up his defense. Jackson solves almost all of those problems. He defends, shoots well and best of all… he’s only 18.

Everybody knows that the NBA Draft is a massive crapshoot. Last year’s #1 overall pick, Markelle Fultz, somehow forgot how to shoot and 12th overall pick Donovan Mitchell inexplicably looks like Dwyane Wade 2.0.

As the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers so the Hawks shouldn’t give up extremely valuable draft capital in order to move up 1 or 2 spots unless they are absolutely sure about a guy (which is totally possible).

Next: 6 Players the Hawks Could Take 3rd Overall

Jaren Jackson Jr. might not have the obvious potential of a guy like DeAndre Ayton or Luka Doncic but given his age and near perfect fit in a lineup, the Atlanta Hawks could do much worse.