That means he will spend most of his time as Trae Young’s understudy. And, when asked what he thinks it will be like playing behind (and sometimes alongside) the two-time All-Star, Bufkin offered an answer that might explain why the Hawks made him the best choice with their first-round pick.
“Trae Young is an on-ball threat. So I’m comfortable playing on ball if he needs a break, off ball if he doesn’t need a break,” Bufkin said, per ASAP sports. “I feel like I’ve proven myself to be able to be a threat on or off the ball.
“I’m just looking forward to getting to Atlanta and being able to compete.”
Bukfin, who said making it to the league was something that he “dreamed of”, averaged 14.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.3 steals as a sophomore last season. Those steals are reminiscent of Dejounte Murray, who led the NBA in steals per game in 2021-22.
“Definitely play from Dejounte,” Bufkin said, per Brad Rowland of Locked on Hawks. “He’s a fierce defender, long arms, enjoys defending the ball. That’s kind of how he got his start.”
The Hawks will certainly be happy if Murray’s work ethic rubs off on the youngster.
Bufkin is a potential insurance policy for the Hawks if Murray – heading into the final year of a four-year, $64 million contract, leaves next offseason in unrestricted free agency or potentially gets traded
The latter scenario has been discussed, primarily by other teams, but seems most unlikely as things currently stand.
Atlanta Hawks receive mixed report card on 2023 NBA Draft class
“The Hawks maybe didn’t head into the night eyeing a guard, but they were smart to pounce on talent and value here,” wrote Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley on June 23. “Bufkin had a chance to not only crack the lottery tonight, but perhaps nudge near the top 10. Getting him at No. 15 is a potential bargain.”
Buckley gave the Hawks an “A-” for their decision.
Their grade for second-round picks Mouhamed Gueye of Washington State and Seth Lundy of Penn State. Gueye, a 6-foot-11 big man with an intriguing offensive game, earned the Hawks a solid “B”. But Buckley gave the selection of Lundy a “C”.
It’s not earth-shattering for second-round picks to receive a mediocre grade, and the Hawks are high on Lundy’s ability to shoot the ball with general manager Landry Fields saying it’s “elite”.
The rookies will join some current Hawks in summer league action starting in early July.