Hawks eyeing sharpshooting guard as 'trade-back' option: Report

The Atlanta Hawks are making contingency plans facing a lofty decision with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2024 NBA Draft.
Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields
Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

A new contender may be entering the fray for the Atlanta Hawks with their first-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.

The caveat is that it is unlikely to be at No. 1 overall.

The big three prospects – Alexandre Sarr, Donovan Clinga, and Zaccharie Risacher – remain the top projections for that slot. But the Hawks are said to be exploring trade back options, with Clingan as their primary target.

Unless they drop just one spot, thought, the door would be open for another team to swoop in and poach the two-time national champion.

Enter Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard.

“He has … worked out for the Hawks (as a trade-back option),” ESPN’s Jonathan Givony wrote on June 19. “Sheppard's shooting ability, intangibles and room for growth as a playmaker have put him in position to be the first guard off the board, completing his ascent from a November curiosity into a full-blown lottery talent.”

Reed Sheppard draws notable player comps amid rumored Hawks interest

Sheppard averaged 12.5 points, 4.5 assists, and 4.1 rebounds while shooting a blistering 52.1% from beyond the arc and nothing 2.5 steals per game this past season. He caught fire at the end of the regular season with a 19.3/7.0/4.0 line with 1.0 SPG over the final four games.

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor gave Sheppard an interesting pair of player comps in his evaluation.

“Shades of Steve Nash, Derrick White,” O’Connor wrote. “A menacing defender and sparkplug scorer who plays bigger than his body.”

That is notable amid speculation that Trae Young could be traded this offseason.

There might not be two more different players to combine into one than the offensive savant Nash and the ultimate modern glue guy in White. One was a wizard, orchestrating some of the league's greates offenses. The other was rewarded for his track record of championship-level effort this year.

“They have a tough decision there at 1, and the question is do they slide back possibly to 4?” Givony said on “NBA Today” on June 18. “The San Antonio Spurs own their pick next year. It’s unprotected. Can you get the best of both worlds? Slide down to 4, maybe get Donovan Clingan or Risacher, get your pick back, and really possibly allow yourself to go into this rebuilding process by trading Trae Young down the road. They have a big decision there to make.”

Sheppard measured in one inch taller and four pounds heavier than Young at the draft combine in their respective trips.

He also projects as a better defender at the next level.

But the former has only a slightly greater wingspan. Whether or not Sheppard's defense can translate to the next level – particularly in high-leverage situations when teams seek favorable matchups – is key.