2020: Pick #6. Actual: Onyeka Okongwu. Should’ve Been: Desmond Bane
Okongwu is a great backup center who could be the Hawks’ starter sooner than later. He’s active, athletic, relentless, and developing nicely on both sides. I love watching him play. He is also the sixth-best choice the Hawks could’ve made here.
Devin Vassell is quietly turning into one of the league’s deadliest shooters. Although injuries truncated his season, Vassell shot 39% from three last season on an eyebrow-raising seven attempts per game.
Tyrese Haliburton has become one of the league’s best point guards in Indiana. Tyrese Maxey is a three-level 20-point scorer. Jaden McDaniels was getting First-Team All-Defensive votes while quietly exploding on offense in last year’s second half.
But Desmond Bane, T-Rex arms and all, would’ve been an incredible complement to Trae Young (or Luka Doncic, as the case may be in some other universe). The last pick in the first round, Bane has become an elite marksman and clever passer while improving defensively. Bane just recently signed a maximum extension with Memphis, and he’s worth every penny. While Haliburton may be the best player in a vacuum, Bane fits into any team context and composition without problems.
Bane had the worst three-point shooting season of his short career last year — and he still shot a net-melting 41% on seven attempts per game while setting new highs in FG%, rebounds, and assists.
Bane might average 25 points per game next year on 50/40/90 shooting; if only he’d reach those heights as a Hawk.