Thanks to Danny Ferry and Co., Atlanta is projected to have the No. 9 pick in this year’s NBA Draft due to a pick swap with the Nets as part of the Joe Johnson trade. Listed below are three prospects playing in this year’s March Madness that could be available for Atlanta to draft come July:
Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
Willie Cauley-Stein shocked many when he announced he was returning to Kentucky for his Junior season. However, his game has hit a whole different level in this past year, and he surely made the right decision. His draft stock has really risen, but if he is available when the Hawks pick he will be high on their short list. At 7 feet, 240 pounds, Cauley-Stein has the size to be a great NBA Center and will add more weight and strength as he develops. His offensive game is not complete but he has made huge strides in the past year. He, along with Karl Anthony-Towns and Jahlil Okafor, headline one of the best Center draft classes in the past decade. Cauley-Stein possesses the size and rim protecting ability Atlanta fans have wanted for years. Imagine having the Kentucky product playing in Pero Antic’s backup role. Imagine having the ability to give Millsap and Horford rest while each can play PF when Cauley-Stein is in. I think drafting him is a win now pick. If he falls to number 9, the Hawks would be crazy not to select him.
Justice Winslow, SF, Duke
Demarre Carroll has been a great addition to the Hawks, but if you ask any fan they will tell you that Carroll is the weakest link in the starting lineup. Bring in Justice Winslow. He would be a perfect 3 and D fit for Mike Budenhozler’s offense. He can shoot, rebound and play elite defense. He has the potential to be the top wing in this year’s draft and I think he could be a star in Atlanta. With his consistent play of late, Atlanta surely has an eye on this kid. Winslow, Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor are the stars for one of the best Duke teams we have seen in years. Most mock drafts have him going number 9 to Atlanta as of now.
Frank Kaminsky, C, Wisconsin
Frank Kaminsky is not one of the most highly touted prospects in this year’s draft, but could be one of the best fits for Atlanta. He would be a Pero Antic with great 3-point shooting ability. He can play great defense and rebound but also has shot for a 39.5 3PT% this season. With Kaminsky, the Hawks will truly be able to stretch the floor, and that’s clearly a big part of Coach Bud’s game plan. He also has great touch in the paint. Kaminsky and Sam Dekker look to earn Wisconsin a second straight Final Four birth.