Is prospect with “polarizing stock” a No. 1 pick contender for Hawks?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 23 Kentucky at South Carolina

As of right now, the Hawks have only been connected to three prospects ahead of the NBA Draft.

Betting markets point towards Alex Sarr; Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer believes it’ll be his fellow countryman, Zaccharie Risacher, and more recently, Jonathan Givony of ESPN reiterated on Zach Lowe’s podcast The Lowe Post that Atlanta likes Donovan Clingain, adding that the club’s head coach Quin Snyder especially likes him.

“I’ve heard that Atlanta likes Donovan Clingan. Quin Snyder especially likes Donovan Clingan. Atlanta had, I think one of the worst defenses in the NBA the past few years. One great way to fix that is to draft a guy with a 9-foot-7 standing reach who is the best shot blocker in this draft,” Givony said.

Most pundits admit that league sources say the Hawks are still in the early, information gathering process with the top prospects of the class, but one that I continue to come back to is Reed Sheppard, who The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie described as “polarizing” in his latest mock draft.

Vecenie mocked Sarr to Atlanta at No. 1 and had Sheppard going to the Rockets with the No. 3 pick, but he noted that some “analytically inclined organizations” see him as a No. 1 pick contender.

“His stock is polarizing among teams, with more analytically inclined organizations seeing him as a No. 1 pick contender and others viewing him more as a late lottery pick due to his lack of size,” Vecenie wrote.

If the Hawks drafted a shorter guard with the No. 1 overall pick, it would send shockwaves throughout Atlanta. Admittedly, I’m not some draft expert, but from what I’ve seen, Reed Sheppard plays winning basketball and can play next to whichever point guard the Hawks choose to build around.

During his freshman campaign at Kentucky, he averaged 12.5 points through 33 games on 53.6% shooting from the field and an eye-popping 52.1% from beyond the arc. He’s not big, but he’s a tenacious defender that can thrive off the ball. On-ball defense and off-ball offense are a perfect complement for Trae Young.

I’m not sure if the Hawks are one of the “analytically inclined organizations” that Vecenie is referring to, but all cards should be on the table for Atlanta.

Photographer: David Jensen/Icon Sportswire
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