I’ve been a big advocate of the Hawks drafting good defenders who can shoot in previous drafts, and they seem to have found that player in AJ Griffin. Still, there’s work to be done with a roster that needs some help around Trae Young. The Hawks could trade this pick, as I talked about in my three blockbuster trade targets for Atlanta. But if they don’t, which players would fit the best under Quin Snyder’s system in Atlanta? I’ll be considering just about everyone except Victor Wenbanyama in case the Hawks trade up.
G Anthony Black — Arkansas
Black is likely to go early in the lottery, potentially even in the top five, and for good reason. The Hawks aren’t getting this kid unless they trade up. 6’7 point guards who can defend and distribute don’t grow on trees. Black is a fantastic athlete, and if his jump shot comes along, he has All-NBA written all over him.
F Cam Whitmore — Villanova
Whitmore is your prototypical three-and-d wing, which teams around the NBA can never have enough of. He’s a plus defender with great size, athleticism, and bounce. He’s still developing as a shot creator, but he has a ton of potential to develop into a high-quality starter.
F Jarace Walker — Houston
One of the biggest pieces of a very good Houston squad, Walker is a versatile player who can play either forward spot or small-ball center. He can be used as a defensive chess piece with the bounce and quickness around the rim to be an impact rebounder and fast break starter.
F/C Taylor Hendricks — UCF
Hendricks is a super explosive forward with tons of athleticism for a 6’9 guy, and he’s drawing comparisons to Pascal Siakam. I love his ability to pass out of the post, along with his defensive versatility. His jump shot is pretty smooth as well. If the Hawks are looking to add to the front court, Hendricks would be a top priority.
G Gradey Dick — Kansas
One of the best freshmen in all of America last season, Dick has a really great jumpshot for a 6’8 wing with his athletic profile. He has plus ability as a defender and should be a stable, quality starter for a long time.
G Keyonte George — Baylor
Another guard I really like for the Hawks, George is a combo guard that can finish and shoot beyond the arc. He’s also a great passer, and he would make for a perfect complimentary bench piece when either Trae Young or Dejounte Murray are off the floor. With a young, budding second unit in Atlanta, he would give them another guy who can get buckets and make plays.
G Cason Wallace — Kentucky
My favorite target for the Hawks in this draft, Wallace is getting Jrue Holiday comps for a reason. He’s a fiesty, athletic guard who can stick to almost anyone and knock down a few threes. Pairing him with Dejounte Murray and Trae Young would give the Hawks a very imposing stable of guards.
G Jalen Hood-Schifino — Indiana
I would love to add Hood-Schifino to Atlanta’s bench. He makes a ton of sense as a high-quality defending 6’6 point guard. He’s a physical, strong combo guard that can pass and handle some scoring responsibilities. He would create a matchup problem on offense and be able to guard sixth-men on defense, exactly what the Hawks need right now.
G/F Rayan Rupert — France
One of the more interesting names in this draft, Rupert is a plus defender who can play multiple positions due to his athleticism and length. He’s still developing as a shooter, but if that can be unlocked, this kid is going to be a problem for the league with his wingspan and versatility.
F Leonard Miller — G-League
Leonard Miller is one of the big question marks in this draft; his stock is all over the place. On one hand, he’s an athletic freak who can rebound and defend at a high level. On the other, he’s a bit of a project, but he’s developing a nice jumper for a guy that’s 6’10. You’d be betting on his potential, but trust me, there’s a whole lot of it.
G Jordan Hawkins — UConn
I watched a ton of UConn basketball this year, and one thing stood out every game — Jordan Hawkins is a bucket. He can be a bit streaky as a scorer, but with his size and length, he would be a perfect bench scorer for the Hawks if they decide to go that route. He can straight up score in bunches, and was a big reason UConn brought home the 2023 National Title.
G Amari Bailey — UCLA
Bailey is a freak athlete who gets after it on defense. He was one of UCLA’s biggest contributors under Mick Cronin. He isn’t a great outside shooter, but he can get to the rim and make plays from the perimeter. He’d be a great guard to bring off the bench and guard sixth men.
G/F Andre Jackson — UConn
Jackson isn’t much of a scorer, so he may end up as a second round pick, but he brings a lot to the table. Jackson is a tenacious defender who can make plays and has tons of potential as a defending point forward. He has terrific length for the position and reminds me a bit of Ben Simmons when he was in college. Although he isn’t a scorer, he’s a glue guy who can do a lot of rebounding, passing, and defending at a high level. If the Hawks move up in the second round, he’d be a great pickup.
G Marcus Sasser — Houston
Sasser is the exact type of player I’ve been begging the Hawks to target in the second round for years. He’s a senior point guard from a pedigreed program who prides himself on defense. He’s NBA ready right now, and if he can be an efficient passer and shooter while playing tenacious defense, he’ll be an absolute steal in Round 2 like a lot of guys before him.
G Jordan Miller — Miami
I’ve talked about these next two guys in my mock drafts, and for a good reason. Jordan Miller is a straight bucket getter. He was one of the major reasons Miami got the Final 4 in 2023, thanks in large part to his 27 point outburst on 100% shooting against Texas. He’s a solid rebounder and defender, and even though he’s an older prospect, I think he’s worthy of a first round pick. He’s projected to go in Round 2 right now, but the Hawks should absolutely pounce on this kid if he’s there with Pick 45.
G/F Keyonte Johnson — Kansas State
Johnson provided a ton of buckets for Kansas State during their Elite 8 run, and you can’t go wrong getting a high-quality Big 12 player in the second round. He’s a very strong and athletic defender who can handle a scoring load. His versatility makes him a perfect bench piece for the Hawks.
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