We’re back again to get a look at the next group of players the Atlanta Hawks hosted for NBA Draft workouts. Their Friday session included some serious talent with multiple prospects projected to be off the board in the first round.
Maxwell Lewis, Pepperdine
Season Averages: 17.1 PTS (46.8 FG%), 5.7 REB, 2.8 AST, 0.8 STL, 3.3 TO
Height: 6’6″ Weight: 207lbs
Maxwell Lewis was one of the better scorers in college basketball this season, finishing sixth in the West Coast Conference in points per game. He was an All-WCC Second Team selection after his impressive sophomore campaign.
Lewis has an impressive handle for his size, shows athleticism at the rim, and has no problem shooting over defenders in the mid-range. Combine that with 34.8 percent from three on 4.3 attempts per game, and you have a real three level scorer. He accepted a bigger role this season and showed a 4.6 percent improvement in two-point field goal efficiency on 169 more attempts than the previous year. One concerning place of Lewis’s game is his turnover rate, as he averaged 3.3 turnovers per game compared to just 2.8 assists. While you don’t expect a forward to rack up assists, the fact he registered multiple games of five or more turnovers is an eyesore.
Whenever you analyze small conference players, people like to know what he did against the higher level of competition. In two games against Gonzaga and one against UCLA, Lewis averaged 13.3 points on 52.8 percent shooting from the field, adding five rebounds, nearly 3 assists, and five turnovers. While Lewis doesn’t appear to be elite anywhere in his game, he is solid across the board with a coachable weakness. Lewis is compared to the Hawks’ 2019 lottery pick Cam Reddish in his 2023 NBA Draft Profile.
ESPN Projection: Round 1, Pick 30 (LAC)
Pete Nance, University of North Carolina
Season Averages: 10.0 PTS (42.2 FG%), 6.0 REB, 1.7 AST, 1.1 BLK
Height: 6’11” Weight: 230lbs
After four years at Northwestern, Nance chose to fill the shoes of Brady Manek in Chapel Hill. He originally entered his name into the 2022 NBA draft, but quickly withdrew and stuck to the transfer portal. He was a starter for all thirty games, averaging 30.2 minutes per contest. Nance is best described as a versatile stretch four. Some analysts saw him as a late second rounder in 2022, but this year he will likely go undrafted. Nance’s averages dropped in nearly every category compared to his senior year at Northwestern. Some of this can be attributed to the volume shooting of Caleb Love and RJ Davis, but Nance still had plenty of opportunity as an every-game starter at UNC.
He spent a lot of time in the high-post initializing dribble hand-offs or setting screens for his two guards. He was very dangerous as a pick and pop threat in his final year at Northwestern but was less efficient for the Tar Heels. He ended the year shooting just 32 percent from three, down over 13 percent from the previous year. The highlight of his year was a game-tying mid-range jumper versus then-ranked Ohio State in a game they went on to win in overtime. However, Nance also hit some dry spells you can’t ignore. He often disappeared in games, including a 1-for-10 game in Cameron Indoor Stadium and an 0-for-7 game against Clemson. Though his build is in high demand, it is unlikely his game translates to the next level.
ESPN Projection: Undrafted
Kris Murray, Iowa
Season Averages: 20.2 PTS (47.6 FG%), 7.9 REB, 2.0 AST, 1.2 BLK, 1.0 STL
Height: 6’8″ Weight: 220lbs
Kris Murray, twin brother of the Kings’ Keegan Murray, was one of the more complete players in all of college basketball this season. Murray finished inside the top-25 in the country in points per game and third overall in the Big Ten. Just like his brother, Kris was impressive as an all-around player in terms of scoring, rebounding, and defense. He shot 33.5 percent from three-point range this year, down 5.2 percent from the previous year. However, he had nearly twice as many attempts per game, garnering much more attention from the defense.
Murray is very similar to his brother in a lot of ways, though Keegan had a much more efficient last year in college. Keegan Murray ended his rookie year as a solid role player for the Kings, and it’s easy to see Kris following the same path. Kris was one of only 26 players to average over 20 points per game this year, and did so in one of the toughest conferences in basketball. Entering the draft as a 22-year-old, there will certainly be a place for him in the league if he can shoot the ball at an efficient clip.
ESPN Projection: Round 1, Pick 24 (SAC)
Mike Miles Jr., Texas Christian University
Season Averages: 17.9 PTS (49.7 FG%), 2.7 REB, 2.7 AST, 2.6 TO, 1.2 STL
Height: 6’2″ Weight: 195lbs
Mike Miles Jr. can be best described as a microwave scorer. He can score in bunches, and often saw double teams because of it. He had an incredible end to his season against Gonzaga where he scored 24 points on 8-13 from the field. Miles is entering the draft at 20 years old with three years of college basketball under his belt, giving him more experience than most players his age.
At his size, you usually have to be elite in at least one area of your game to be a success in the NBA. He is great at using his dribble to get past defenders and can craftily finish at the rim. His playmaking is decent, but he will need to improve for the next level. Scorers at his height often don’t find themselves a spot in the NBA, and his ability to guard at the next level is certainly a concern. He has some potential to see his name called in the late stages of the second round, but probably isn’t someone the Hawks will be targeting.
ESPN Projection: Undrafted
Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Marquette
Season Averages: 12.5 PTS (51.2%), 4.7 REB, 0.1 BLK, 0.9 STL
Height: 6’8″ Weight: 230lbs
Prosper is a very intriguing prospect. He spent his first year at Clemson, logging just two starts in an underwhelming year. He then transferred and played his next two seasons with the Marquette Golden Eagles. He is an athletic, high-energy player who excels at running the floor. He has potential to guard 2-4 in the NBA, and proved himself as being able to guard 2-5 in college with his 7’1” wingspan.
One thing you love to see in a prospect is improvement. Prosper’s efficiency in his senior year (4.2-8.1 on 51.2 FG%) was an impressive jump from his junior year (2.4-5.2 on 46.1 FG%). He also improved from deep, shooting 33.9 percent on 3.2 attempts per game. He was a 74.9 percent free throw shooter throughout college, which is promising in terms of his shooting capability. In today’s NBA, teams want their traditional power forwards to be able to stretch the floor, and Prosper may be able to provide that. He impressed in his draft combine game, scoring 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the free throw line. Prosper is a high potential guy who snuck his way into a potential first round pick with his combine performance.
ESPN Projection: Round 1, Pick 28 (UTAH)
Ben Sheppard, Belmont
Season Averages: 18.8 PTS (47.5 FG%), 5.2 REB, 2.9 AST, 1.4 STL
Height: 6’6″ Weight: 190lbs
Atlanta native Ben Sheppard played four seasons at Belmont University, tallying 1,516 career points with 202 three-pointers made. He shot 41.5 percent from three during his senior season on 6 attempts per game. Sheppard proved to be elite in catch and shoot opportunities, which were most of his three-point attempts. He excels in moving around off-ball, causing defenders to lose track of him and hence finding open spots on the floor to knock down shots. He has a quick jump shot, making him hard to guard around screens and closeouts. He showed the capability to attack the rim when ran off the three point line, but it wasn’t a strength of his game.
Defensively, he has some limitations when thinking of the next level. He was excellent at jumping passing lanes, finishing the year with 44 steals in 32 games. He will likely need to put on weight to guard in the NBA and probably won’t be a guy you can plant on a team’s first or second best player. Most of Sheppard’s stock value revolves around his ability to shoot the ball.
ESPN Projection: Round 2, Pick 36 (ORL)
The Hawks had a lot of talent in the building this Friday. Prosper, Lewis, Murray, and Sheppard are virtually guaranteed draft picks this year.
Photo: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire