The Hawks capped off their draft last night by trading up into the second round and selecting Bruno Fernando a center prospect out of Maryland. If you were happy with the first two picks of De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, you should be thrilled with this one as well.
The 6’10” center is well built at 240 pounds, making him a force to deal with in the paint – where he has excellent footwork. Fernando can establish position down low, work the block, and has a bevy of moves to turn to for a bucket, which is a bit of a lost art in today’s game.
Even though as things stand now, he’s more of a traditional big; Fernando has shown signs of becoming a much more versatile player at Maryland. Last year, he showed the ability to put the ball on the floor at the perimeter and attack the basket. Once he gets going downhill, it’s nearly impossible to stop, and he posesses the athleticism to finish with emphasis. Fernando did not shoot much at Maryland from three, but he did make them at a respectable rate (30.8%) and has a nice touch from the free-throw line (77.9% last year). A season under Lloyd Pierce and this Hawks developmental group, and Fernando will be a competent three-point shooter – there is no doubt in my mind.
Fernando’s size makes him a load to deal with on the defensive side as well. He averaged nearly two blocks a game last year in 30 minutes and did so emphatically. As a rebounder, Fernando racked up over ten per contest for the Terps and loved crashing the offensive glass. He corralled close to three offensive rebounds a game, and when he gets that close, it usually results in points. Imagining Fernando and John Collins battling for boards should bring a smile to all Hawks fans.
There’s a lot to love about this pick, especially for a second rounder. No, he’s not a dominant offensive player, but that’s not what the Hawks were looking for here. They did not have the center of the future on the roster, and Fernando might be that guy. His size, strength, athleticism, and willingness to play his role will make him a productive piece to the team. But this pick also has the potential to be a huge steal if he can continue to develop his offensive game, specifically his three-point shot.
There’s a realistic possibility Fernando is the starting center two years down the road. NBADraft.net had him ranked as the 10th overall prospect on their big board and mocked him to go 21st overall, comparing him to Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka. I like that comparison because he’s a little bit of both. His size, strength, and ability to finish with both hands reminds me of Adams, but his shot blocking ability and soft touch on his jumper are similar to Ibaka. So the fact the Hawks were able to snag him with the 34th pick is just another example of Travis Schlenk working his magic on draft night.