2017. Pick #19. Actual: John Collins. Should’ve Been: OG Anunoby
Collins is a good player who never quite lived up to his potential, partly through his own doing and partly through the franchise’s. The defensive effort and shooting both waxed and waned, and he chafed at what he perceived as his limited role on offense. His tumultuous relationship with the Hawks finally, mercifully culminated in a recent trade to Utah.
Collins is still a better-than-usual pick at #19, a player who became a solid starter in the league. But that doesn’t mean Atlanta couldn’t have done better.
All-Star Jarrett Allen was taken three picks later. Kyle Kuzma, who just signed a nine-figure contract, was also available, as was Dejounte Murray’s former teammate Derrick White.
But the cream of the remaining crop was another Toronto Raptor, OG Anunoby. The pinnacle of the 3-and-D player, it’s impossible to imagine a better fit next to Trae Young (or any high-creation point guard, really). Anunoby is a lockdown wing defender with a little bully-ball post-up game who also knocked in 39% of his triples last season. While Anunoby might never be an All-NBA caliber player, he’s one of the most valuable non-superstars in the game due to his remarkable flexibility — there isn’t a team in the league who couldn’t use him, including (especially?) Atlanta.
And even if the Hawks ended up in a weird standoff with Anunoby, as they did with Collins, perhaps they would’ve been more amenable to the rumored three first-rounders teams offered Masai Ujiri for OG last season.