So far, Travis Schlenk has done a fantastic job of drafting during his tenure in Atlanta. Last year, he came away with Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper. Although neither guy had a big impact this season, they are very talented developmental pieces with high upside. In my Mock Draft, I went the alternate route by selecting pro-ready defenders — Ayo Dosunmu and Herb Jones.
Not to pat myself on the back, but if the Hawks could go back in time, I imagine they would take both of my picks. Dosunmu was one of the better rookies in the league, and Jones is already a top-notch defender in the NBA. Atlanta’s current picks may not even end up belonging to them if they pull off a big trade. Regardless, I trust Travis Schlenk’s process; here are a few guys I like before the lottery kicks off.
Round 1, Pick 16: F AJ Griffin — Duke
I was shocked to see AJ Griffin available here — but the same could be said about another Blue Devil in Jalen Johnson last draft. Griffin had a slow-ish start to the season, but he was still recovering from injury. I’m on record saying that I think he will have a better career than his teammate and potential number one pick Paolo Banchero — and for good reason. Griffin is a very athletic and willing defender that can fly around the rim and knock down some threes. He’s the perfect 3-and-D wing to surround Trae Young with. After his performance in the NCAA tournament, I doubt Griffin falls this far. If he does, the Hawks shouldn’t hesitate to snag back-to-back Duke products.
Round 2, Pick 44: G Trevor Keels — Duke
North Carolina fans, look away, but I couldn’t pass on Keels here after what I saw in the NCAA Tournament. He is a solid rebounder and very physical defender, something that I’m very much looking for in this class. Keels can knock down some threes, but his calling card is getting to the rim and finishing through contact. He played really well in Duke’s biggest games of the season, and his upside is too much to pass on here.