The day has finally come. Sure, draft night will not be as exciting for Hawks fans as it is for Celtics and Sixers fans. However, adding young talent is always fun, and it will be interesting to see what Travis Schlenk has up his sleeve in his first draft. Adrian Wojnowarski reported that Kent Bazemore has been involved in discussions as of late, so he could be moved tonight. Other moves also could be made. Regardless of what happens, the Hawks are currently slated to pick 19th overall, so here is my short list of guys who could be available.
The Hawks would be lucky if Collins is available at 19. After trading back in the second round, I would have no problem flipping the 41st pick if it means moving up a spot or two to get him. But hey, crazier things have happened. Collins is going to be a special player. He was one of the best players in the ACC as a sophomore for Wake Forest, and posted the highest PER in the nation at 35.9. That is absolutely absurd. Good power forwards can be hard to come by in the NBA nowadays, and Collins fits the bill. He put up the production in college, but his improved mid range game shows that he has room for improvement and can likely stretch out his game. Even if he doesn’t, Collins is the perfect replacement to develop for Paul Millsap. Put him at the top of my wish list.
The Hawks now have a whole to fill at the center position, as they traded Dwight Howard this week. The Hawks are going to say they will draft the best player available, but given their young assets, it makes sense for them to go big. Rim protectors are hard to come by nowadays, and Adebayo has the potential to be just that. In fact, he has been compared to Howard a bunch already in his young career. Adebayo’s rebounding numbers were not outlandish, but his body of work is impressive when you realize he was just a freshman. Quite honestly, Kentucky players pretty much always pan out, and that is a factor as well. Adebayo has the potential to be the best center in this draft, and it is a need for the Hawks.
Another potential Millsap replacement. TJ Leaf is a lights out shooter, nailing a hair under 47% from three-point range. The sky is the limit with that kind of stroke in Mike Budenholzer’s system. His offensive game is second to none, as he can even play down low and is a decent ball distributor as well. However, he must work on getting bigger and his defense if he wants to be more than a role player in the NBA. This is a very realistic goal, as he is just 20-years old. His game is perfect for today’s NBA, and he will help out Dennis Schroder a bunch if he can continue to stroke it from outside like he did in college. Leaf is probably the best fit offensively out of this bunch.
Harry Giles is the wildcard of this year’s NBA Draft. But when you are picking at 19th overall, taking a chance on a boom or bust prospect is likely the right call. Skal Labissierre, the Kings selection, is proof of this. Like Giles, he struggled in his freshman year. However, he is coming off an impressive rookie campaign. Giles was the second best prospect coming out of high school, but was limited in his freshman year as he recovered from knee surgery. He played efficient basketball for Duke off the injury, but only logged 11 minutes per game. His body of work beforehand is hard to evaluate, as he sat out his senior season with the injury, and any experience prior to then is hard to gauge for his draft value today. If the injury is not a long-term concern, Giles’ talent alone is worth a pick at 19.
Many Hawks fans would consider this a reach, and some would not be happy. Well, that is also how people felt about Taurean Prince, who looks like a great selection now. Swanigan is easily the most underrated player in this draft, and it is not close. He was the Big Ten Player of the Year and a unanimous first team all-american. He can rebound, he can shoot, and he can play in the post. Swanigan averaged 18.5 points per game, 12.5 rebounds, and 3.1 assists, becoming the first college player to break 18-13-3 since Tim Duncan did so at Wake Forest. The reason for him being a later pick is because he used to be fat… which is ridiculous. Give me this kid at 19, and I’ll be happy. He is definitely going to be a steal in this year’s draft. I wanted him at 31, but am willing to take him at 19.