The Hawks have drafted Kobe Bufkin with the 15th overall pick. NBADraftNet compares him to Jordan Poole and has a positive evaluation of him overall:
Bufkin came to Michigan as an in-state player who top 50 recruit in the 2021 HS class, but had to wait his turn behind a group of upperclassmen and highly touted Caleb Houston (averaged 3 ppg and 10 mpg) … This season he took advantage of the extended minutes available from the losses in the backcourt; more than quadrupling his scoring output, seeing upward trajectory in efficiency and overall production across the board, and going from a 2023 Draft afterthought to an intriguing 2-way prospect that has played his way into 1st round discussion as the season has progressed…He has combo guard potential, the makings of a nice 3 level scoring skill set, solid defensive effort and shows the type of basketball IQ that suggests he will continue to grow as a player as he earns more trust from whatever coaching staff he goes to
Under Travis Schlenk, the Hawks became one of the best teams at finding talent in the draft, especially outside of the lottery. However, this isn’t Travis Schlenk’s Hawks anymore.
Bufkin’s a combo guard that can do a little bit of everything. He has a pretty good handle with good vision. Although, neither of those traits should be considered elite. He also shot 35.5% from three last season. In Atlanta, Bufkin will mostly be asked to play off-ball, given Trae Young will be the primary point guard as long as he has Hawks written across his chest. Which is something Bufkin feels like he’s fully capable of.
"Trae Young is an on-ball threat. I'm comfortable playing on-ball if he needs a break, off-ball if he doesn't need a break." – Kobe Bufkin on playing with Trae Young. #Hawks
— Maria Martin (@Ria_Martin) June 23, 2023
With Dejounte Murray and Trae Young still currently in the fold as we sit here today, it might be hard to initially imagine how Bufkin can find his way onto the court as a rookie. However, the answer is easy.
Bufkin has the ability to be an above average perimeter defender at the next level, despite being slightly undersized, something the Hawks have severely lacked in recent years. Now, there is some work to do, and the jump to the NBA can be difficult on the defensive end for the best defensive players in college, just ask DeAndre Hunter. But if he can show some chops on that side of the ball early on, it will be the easiest way for him to earn minutes as a rookie.
I’m interested to see how Bufkin’s game translates to the NBA. He doesn’t possess the elite ball handling skills necessary to be a full-time point guard, and he won’t be asked to do that in Atlanta. But he’s also undersized for a shooting guard and isn’t exactly a sniper from behind the arc. At just 19-years-old, this feels like the type of player the Hawks are going to have to develop a bit before he ever sees NBA action.
Photographer: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire