Latest NBA mock draft has Hawks pit biggest need against best value

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The NBA Draft is a little more than two weeks away, and the Hawks seem to be inching closer to having a solidified plan.

Though most believe Alex Sarr and Zaccharie Risacher are the top two prospects in the class, it’s Donovan Clingan that is gaining the most traction among draft pundits.

On The Ringer’s NBA Draft Show, Kevin O’Conner reiterated the Hawks are indeed interested in the UConn star and could be open to trading down to land him.

“What I’m hearing is that they really like Clingan, who already worked out for the Hawks, and that they really like Clingan. I think that the Hawks would be open to trading down to get Clingan at 2, or 3, or 4, or wherever it might be if a team wants to move up for Sarr or Risacher,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor’s words come a week after ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported something similar, noting that head coach Quin Snyder especially likes Clingan.

“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.

In the latest ESPN mock draft, Givony has the Hawks selecting Clingan to fill the club’s biggest need, while Jeremy Woo has the them landing Risacher because he provides the most value.

Givony’s pick that fills the biggest need: Donovan Clingan | UConn | C | Age: 20.2

The 36-win Hawks, who have one of the NBA’s worst defenses, could surely benefit from adding the draft’s best rim-protector in Clingan, who might remind coach Quin Snyder of his Utah Jazz days with Rudy Gobert patrolling the paint. Clingan, ranked No. 3 in ESPN’s Top 100, could be an excellent pick-and-roll partner with Trae Young, as he sets bruising screens, has terrific hands, can facilitate out-of-dribble handoffs and zoom actions and is a good passer and finisher.

Woo’s pick that gets the best value: Zaccharie Risacher | Bourg (France) | SF | 19.1

Risacher possesses an excellent baseline at a young age to become a valuable starting-caliber wing who excels on both ends. He also has a strong developmental floor. The No. 1 pick isn’t as clear-cut this year — and Atlanta might need rim protection more than it explicitly needs another wing — but Risacher is the top-ranked prospect for both Givony and me, and he comes off the board here.

Honestly, all three of the top prospects fill a roster need for the Hawks. Clingan, Risacher, and Sarr can immediately contribute defensively. Though in different ways, all would help the team in that facet of the game. In terms of value, I’m not quite sure Risacher is the best selection because Sarr’s ceiling is higher.

The Hawks have to weigh multiple factors when deciding which of the three prospects they want to draft No. 1 overall.

Internally, Atlanta will have to decide to build around Trae Young or Dejounte Murray. Whomever they decide, they’ll want to take the player that pairs best with their point guard. Externally, they have to factor in the prospect’s floor and ability to immediately contribute while also considering their future outlook and ceiling.

I assume the Hawks will be trying to retool and not rebuild, so balancing a win-now kind of selection but still maximizing future potential is critical. It’s a difficult task, and one I’m glad I don’t have to deal with.

Photographer: Glenn Gervot/Icon Sportswire


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