The Atlanta Hawks have the No. 15 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft on June 22.
They also have the No. 46 overall pick. But their first-round slot could be a real turning point in the draft, and it is not just because it is the first pick outside the lottery.
In their latest mock draft, Kevin O’Connor and Michael Pina of The Ringer project the Hawks to take Metropolitan 92s star Bilal Coulibaly. Being the teammate of presumed No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama, Coulibaly flew under the radar this past season.
“Drafting wings is nothing new to the Hawks, and it’s a necessity on a team built around Trae Young,” reads Coulibaly’s profile entry. “Coulibaly’s steady progress for Mets 92 has thrust him into the lottery conversation, as he’s shown more than just 3-and-D skills.
The entry goes on to describe Coulibaly as a “Fast-rising prospect” noting that he is “luring in teams with his defense and intriguing offensive flashes.”
Coulibaly did not attend the 2023 NBA Draft combine in Chicago due to the Metropolitans competing in postseason play. But he is listed at 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan. And, after surprising some with his early declaration, he could hear his name called soon after his uber-famous teammate, Wembanyama.
He’s also shown an ability to spread the floor, shooting over 35% from deep this past season which was a vast improvement over the previous season, per The Ringer staff.
While Coulibaly’s star is still rising, landing him would not be outside the norm for Atlanta.
Not only do the Hawks have a history of taking wings in recent years – they’ve taken one in each of the last two first-rounds – but they have also been fortunate enough to have lottery talents slide to them.
Coulibaly could be the energetic defender that complements Griffin on the wing.
The Ringer crew has the Hawks going in a more conventional direction with their second-round pick (No. 46 overall), snagging Gonzaga wing Julian Strawther. If nothing else, the 6-foot-6 Strawther is a big shot-taker and maker.
The third-year man averaged 15.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists this postseason while also knocking down 40.8% of his threes.
National champion in the building for the Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks’ latest batch of pre-draft workouts included UConn big man Adama Sanogo, a 6-foot-9, 240-pounder who averaged 17.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists en route to helping the Huskies win the National Championship.
Sanogo, the 2023 NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, also showed an ability to spread the floor, shooting 36.5% from deep this past season.
Also in the group was Miami guard Isaiah Wong, the 2023 ACC Player of the Year who averaged 16.2 points 4.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists this past season.
This round of workouts did not have any surprise subtractions but did see two-time All-WCC selection and fifth-year guard Keshawn Justice out of Santa Clara added to the list. Justice is not projected to be drafted in some mocks but did average 13.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists this past season.
Atlanta did host one Gonzaga player on Wednesday, Rasir Bolton, another fifth-year guard who put up a 10.1/2.5/1.9 line in 2022-23 and shot 37.8% from deep in his collegiate career.
They also hosted Kentucky freshman Chris Livingston.
Livingston averaged 6.3 points and 4.2 rebounds during what could be his final season in Lexington, though the 6-foot-6 defender has retained his eligibility throughout the pre-draft process.
Sixth-year man Justyn Mutts out of Virginia Tech – who averaged 13.3 points 7.4 rebounds, and 4.6 assists and has good size at 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds – rounded out the group.