The NBA Draft is tomorrow night, and the Atlanta Hawks own the 15th overall pick.
There is a ton of speculation about whether the club will attempt to trade up from their current selection. The most common rumor among Jake Fischer, Adrian Wojnarowski, and other insiders is the Mavericks’ 10th overall pick. Dallas reportedly wants Clint Capela included in the deal, while Atlanta is reluctant to include the veteran center and instead desires to deal John Collins.
Well, if history repeats itself, the Hawks will stand pat at the 15th pick. So, who will be on Landry Fields, Kyle Korver, and Quin Snyder’s radar? The consensus among insiders is Kentucky’s Cason Wallace.
Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports! is another. Here is what Peek had to say:
Wallace is the best on-ball defender in this draft class and will have no issue guarding both 1 and 2 guards at the NBA level. During his one season at Kentucky, his touches were limited offensively playing alongside Sahvir Wheeler, but if the draft has taught NBA teams anything about Kentucky guards, it’s they’re more productive pros than what they showed in college. Wallace is a decent outside shooter and uses his speed to his advantage against bigger guards.
For the Hawks, the idea of getting a big combo guard who can play next to Trae Young but also take minutes as his backup has to be tempting, especially since Atlanta needs a Plan B if it can’t keep Dejounte Murray beyond this season. Bufkin would likely be the Hawks’ primary choice, but he’ll be long gone by No. 15. If so, it would likely come down to George (gone at No. 13 in this mock), Wallace or Jalen Hood-Schifino.
Hollinger’s coworker is also in agreement. Here’s what The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie thinks:
The Scout: Wallace is one of those dudes you just trust to be a hooper. He gets how to play and impact winning. He’s an elite defensive guard with incredible hands and disruptive hand-eye coordination. He’s extremely strong and can slide up the lineup because of how capable he is at getting his chest in front of players and cutting off their momentum. Offensively, I’d like to see him create off the bounce, but he’s good enough in ball screens and is strong as a catch-and-shoot weapon. He suffered a few injuries this past season, so teams want to learn a bit more about those, but Wallace is a very trustworthy player.
The Fit: The Hawks took fewer 3s than anyone in the NBA this season on a per-shot basis and put very little pressure on the rim. Despite this, they were still a top-10 offense because Trae Young is that good of a creative force. Now, with Quin Snyder getting a full season, they need more shooters and diverse offensive threats. With Bogdan Bogdanović’s injury history (missing about 20 games per season) and Dejounte Murray’s contract running out at the end of next season, it might make sense for them to look toward the combo guard market in this draft class, which is diverse in terms of skill set. Wallace is a solid shooter, but more importantly is an elite defender who can play on and off the ball and will provide strong value in any backcourt combination. A few different sources have noted they would be surprised to see Wallace get beyond Atlanta here.
I won’t try to be some NBA draft guru because I’m not, but all I’ve heard are great things about Cason Wallace from fellow Hawks fans. As much as Atlanta has messed up in a lot of areas, they’ve been excellent at drafting and developing talent under Travis Schlenk’s front office.
Trae Young, Onyeka Okongwu, Jalen Johnson, John Collins, Kevin Huerter, and A.J. Griffin were all great picks, given where they were taken in the draft. Now, under new leadership, the Hawks will be under a microscope.
Photographer: Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire