Marvin Bagley III, C, Duke
It seems as the draft continues to approach, the possibility of Marvin Bagley III going among the top two picks rises. I am still of the notion that Ayton and Doncic will end up going #1 and #2 respectively. If the Kings are not interested in Doncic, it would not surprise me if another team trades up to the second spot to select him. That would leave Bagley available for the Hawks at #3, and if that happens, Bagley III will be in a Hawks uniform next season.
Bagley is one of the elite prospects in the draft with the potential to turn into one of the best stretch big men in the game. He would fit perfectly next to John Collins in the Hawks front court, giving the team a new identity under head coach Lloyd Pierce. There are questions about his defensive ability, but at the end of the day, he is too much of an offensive talent to pass on with the third pick.
Jaren Jackson Jr., C, Michigan State
Another intriguing front court prospect, Jackson will be following in his father’s foot steps when he is drafted later this month. The only thing difference being his dad was not blessed with the intimidating size and strength that makes Jackson Jr. a potential top-five pick. As a freshman at Michigan State Jackson never lit up the stat sheet like most of the top prospects. He only averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds in 21.8 minutes per game, but it is his NBA potential that has caught the attention of teams at the top of the draft.
Jackson is already an A+ rim protector, who averaged a ridiculous 3.0 blocks per game for the Spartans. He is already well built at 242-pounds, and perhaps what sticks out most about his game is his jump shot. At just a hair under 7 feet tall, Jackson shot nearly 40% on 96 three-point attempt last season. The rest of his offensive game will need to catch up, but in a league where rim protectors that can stretch the floor are treated like gold, it is understandable why the Hawks could end up selecting him with the third pick.
Luka Doncic, G, Croatia
There have been reports about both the Kings and the Hawks not being as interested in European phenom, Luka Doncic, as other teams. We will see how much of that is smoke and how much of that is fire, but if Doncic is available when the Hawks pick, Atlanta has to be evaluating all options.
If the Hawks truly favor American front court talent over the EuroLeague MVP, then they should be looking for a partner to trade with and continue to stockpile quality future assets as they undergo a rebuild. Several teams are going to want their hands on Doncic, and there will probably be a nice trade package out there for the Hawks to take advantage of. Atlanta would still be able to acquire the valued American front court talent, while collecting future assets in the process.
The problem with that is Doncic may just be every bit as advertised. He is one of, if not the, most highly touted prospects to ever come out of Europe. He just became the youngest ever to win the EuroLeague (easily the second best professional basketball league in the world) MVP at nineteen years old and led his team to a EuroLeague title. This could be the generational talent the Hawks have been searching for since they traded Dominique Wilkins in 1994. Do they really want to miss that opportunity?
Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
Right after the NCAA season ended, it did not seem like Mo Bamba would be a top 3 pick in this year’s draft. However, his NBA combine performance and pre-draft workouts have changed all of that, and have Bamba in the discussion as one of the top picks in the draft.
His wingspan measured as the largest to ever be recored at an NBA combine at a staggering 7’10”. His height, length and willingness on the defensive end have many scouts comparing him to Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz. However, Bamba is showing signs of having something Gobert has yet to develop, and that is a consistent jump shot. In fact, Gobert has only registered three, three-point shots in his five year career and made none of them. Bamba made fourteen threes for Texas as a freshman and shot an impressive 68% at the line for a 7-footer. He possesses a nice shooting stroke that will definitely improve as he continues to develop as an NBA player.
Not to mention, Bamba also reportedly ran a three-quarter court sprint time of 3.04 seconds. To put that in perspective, that is a faster time then both Russell Westbrook (3.08) and John Wall (3.14). The Harlem product may not have the game that DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley have yet, but it is easy to see why some of the top teams could select him because of his crazy potential.