In my latest Mock Draft 2.0, I have the Hawks selecting Sam Dekker with the 15th overall pick. However, it is no guarantee that Dekker will be available for the Hawks at 15. Dekker’s stock is on the rise and teams could be eyeing him around the end of the lottery. The Hawks need to find a way, possibly by trading up, to draft the forward out of Wisconsin. Dekker would be a perfect fit as a small forward and possibly even a stretch 4 at times. Standing at 6 feet 9 inches tall, Dekker is long, athletic, and has a beautiful high arcing jump shot from deep.
Hawks fans have to face the possibility that some big market teams may miss out on some of the top free agents and overpay Demarre Carroll out of desperation. Carroll’s play over the season and during the playoffs has been very solid, but he may not be worth the top dollar that a team like the Knicks would be willing to dole out. If Carroll walks, the Hawks have to fill the Small Forward position through free agency or the draft. Given the list of small forwards that could possibly be free agents this summer, I see no one on it that the Hawks could target that would be worth the money. Even if Carroll is resigned, Dekker is the most talented player projected to be on the board when Atlanta hits the clock.
Dekker spent 3 years at Wisconsin, which runs an offense similar to the Hawks. It is very reliant on everyone on the floor being a threat to shoot, and Wisconsin ran it to perfection. Wisconsin was not the most talented team in the country, but they were always one of the best teams in the country. Many people watched their triumph over undefeated Kentucky in the Final Four. Dekker led the way for the Badgers, including a huge step-back three that shocked the whole country. In his career at Wisconsin, Dekker shot 142 for 408 (35%) from the three-point line. And given the Hawks reputation for being able to develop player’s shots, those numbers could actually get better. He currently is a great spot up three-point shooter, but has already shown signs of developing a good jump shot off the dribble. The transition to the NBA is usually never easy, but considering the need and the fit, it could be perfect match.
Much will be made about Dekker’s shooting because it is rare for a player at 6 feet 9 inches with long arms to have such a polished jump shot, but there is so much more to his game. Dekker has the ability to handle the ball very well for somebody so tall. He can get past defenders with ease and make shots around the basket. He is also very athletic. He can fly down the lane off the dribble for huge dunks and also make highlight reel alley-oops. He does not need the ball in his hand to be successful, but can make plays on his own if need be. On defense, Dekker is not superstar, but he is very solid. He is long, athletic, with quick feet. He can keep opposing players in front of him and has a high basketball IQ. Coach Budenholzer preaches defense and smart basketball, and Dekker takes great pride in his knowledge of the game and his fundamentally sound defense.
When watching Dekker’s tape it is hard not to compare him to Utah’s small forward Gordon Hayward (when he was coming out of college). They both are long wing players that can really handle the ball. They have similar high arcing, beautiful jump shots and can put the ball in the basket around the rim. Dekker looks to actually have a little more athleticism that Hayward coming out of college. Hayward has panned out perfectly in the NBA and Dekker will do the same. When studying Demarre Carroll’s development since coming to Atlanta, you can make the argument that Atlanta could be the best team for Dekker to develop his game. The Hawks have a lot of decisions to make this offseason, but if Sam Dekker is in a Hawks uniform next season, he will be a difference maker in our system. He can finish, he can shoot, and plays selfless Hawks-brand basketball. This is a guy Atlanta needs to draft, even if it means moving up a few spots.