While it’s a relatively quiet time for the Atlanta Hawks, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of news to keep our eyes on. And with the NBA Draft and free agency in a few weeks, and within days of each other, the rumors are starting to pick up for both. John Collins’ status has been the focus of much of the talk, but the draft will happen first.
We identified some prospects to target with the 20th pick.
But the folks over at The Ringer spiced up the discussion by mocking former Duke forward Jalen Johnson to the Houston Rockets at 23rd overall.
Let’s be clear, if Johnson does indeed fall that far, the Hawks need to make sure his slide stops at 20, where they currently reside. The 6-foot-9 Johnson could be a contingency plan for Collins or just an extremely talented addition in his own right.
The Atlanta Hawks would be getting a steal if they were able to grab Jalen Johnson with the 20th pick
More from Draft
- 1 Floor, 1 realistic, 1 dream player comparison for Hawks’ Kobe Bufkin
- Hawks rookie gets honest about playing with Dejounte Murray, Trae Young
- Hawks’ Trae Young sends message to Spurs’ Victor Wembanyama
- Insider sheds light on Atlanta Hawks’ trade rumors ahead of 2023 NBA Draft
- 10 NBA draft prospects that should be available for the Atlanta Hawks
Most mocks have Johnson being taken in the lottery with the Golden State Warriors (who hold the seventh and 14th overall picks) and San Antonio Spurs (12th overall) as popular destinations. Both teams will pick well before the Hawks barring a trade but that’s what makes The Ringer’s mock stand out.
How could such a talented player have such a wide range of outcomes?
You may recall Johnson opted out of the final this past college season amid what reports say were long-standing issues between Johnson’s personal team and his college one. There is speculation it could be related to the foot injury he suffered earlier in the year.
He was third on the team with 11.2 points on 52 percent shooting with 6.1 rebounds per game.
It wasn’t just at Duke either as this latest departure was his third in three seasons. That’s certainly the kind of thing that could cause such a gifted player to fall.
There are also some questions about his effort on defense (there often isn’t any).
The Hawks, though, don’t have many needs and could afford to take a swing like this. They have a strong locker room and culture, led by Head Coach Nate McMillan. Johnson wasn’t exactly playing for a scrub at Duke. But the mechanics and politics of collegiate athletics — where coaches have more control — aren’t always for everyone.
At the very least he would be another very talented player to provide depth.
He would have to make it to them (or at least a little closer) for the Hawks to be in the mix. But should this fantasy scenario become reality, the decision shouldn’t be a hard one.