The Hawks and Their Ping Pong Balls

The 2019 NBA Draft Lottery show, aka the Zion Williamson sweepstakes, actually brought a little drama and fun to NBA fan base ahead of the Western Conference Finals.

The whole production was centered around the unicorn that is Zion, and which of the bottom 14 teams (or teams who acquired a pick from a bottom 14 team) would land him. Sure, there are other very good players in the draft, but ESPN show was all Zion, and it’s well deserved.

As much as we hope & pray for a favorable result so our team can climb out of the depths of losing basketball, those little ping pong balls just don’t care about your team’s hopes and dreams. Hawk’s fans felt a little lack of care when our projected top 5 pick, fell to number 8.

The only reason Hawks fans are slightly disappointed are because the odds of getting a pick at 8 or worse was only about 10%. We did get some redemption getting our second draft pick at the 10 spot thanks to the 2018 trade via the Dallas Mavericks

Here were the odds of each pick ahead of billion dollar ping pong drawings:  

1st: 10.5 percent

2nd: 10.5 percent

3rd: 10.5 percent

4th: 10.5 percent

5th: 2.2 percent

6th: 19.6 percent

7th: 26.7 percent

8th: 8.8 percent

9th: 0.6 percent

And as it appears, the talent disparity from the 5 to 8 looks to be a decent drop off. I’m not saying that it’s a Kobe Bryant to Swaggy P drop off, but it could be a potential rookie starter to a project rotational player.

Now with our picks being so close, at 8 and 10, I’m just going to give my five guys that make the most sense and are realistic with our picks.

1.) Sekou Doumbouya – Limoges CSP/France | Position: SF/PF | Height: 6-9 

What to like:

  • Sekou at 18 years old already has NBA athleticism and size at 6’9 210 lbs.
  • Good slasher, thanks to a quick first step and ability to dish out & absorb contact.
  • Also finishes at the rim well, mainly because he plays above the rim and it’s easier when you are shooting down… (Must be nice)
  • Runs the floor and fills his lanes, which will bode well with Trae’s court vision.
  • Solid set shooter. It needs consistency going in the basket, when feet aren’t fully set, but he has a good looking jump shot. Coaches can work with a young kid with solid shooting form.
  • Can guard the 1-4 spots, especially in today’s small ball game, with his 6-11 wingspan and athleticism.
  • He’s been playing professional for 2 years. So knows how to play against grown men. And as we’ve seen, that pays off early for the European players.

What to dislike:

  • Since he only started playing basketball at 12 or 13 he doesn’t quite have the full feel of the game yet. So it can come off as a lack of basketball IQ at this stage.
  • Not yet a play maker. Can struggle in the half court due to that inability. Head goes down and stays down on drives. Barely averaging 1 assist a game. But believe he can learn working with Trae and Coach Pierce.
  • His pull-up game seems to be non existent.

In closing:

I just got back from Vegas so I’m all about the risk-reward of Sekou. Also, the FOMO of these young European players is growing more and more real every year. You don’t want to miss out on a Luka or Giannas. I know Sekou isn’t those guys, but you never know, especially seeing his physical stature and abilities. I personally believe he has the highest upside of the gentlemen of the 8-10 range, so let’s roll the dice. And I have read a few articles that say this kid is a worker and loves this game and you can build off that.

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2.) Cam Reddish – Duke | Position: SG/SF | Height: 6-8

What to like:

  • Great size for a wing in the NBA at 6’8 and a 7’1 wingspan
  • Potential to be an elite scorer with his shooting ability. With what seems to be a future great Pick and roll combo of Young and Collins, help defenders will get lost and leave Cam open and he can be a lethal shooter (ex. His Florida State buzzer beater).
  • Very fluid basketball player. AT TIMES, makes the game look easy because of his pace of play and ease of scoring.
  • Versatile defender because of his length and athleticism.

What to dislike:

  • Effort, effort, effort. It honestly seemed like he checked out of games before they even started, because he knew he was playing third wheel to Zion and RJ. (You have to learn to embrace being the 3rd wheel. I’ve been doing it for years)
  • Consistency. This might be based of his effort, but you might get 25 points against Kentucky and then 5 points against Hartford. And those stats aren’t due to difference in playing time against an inferior team. He played 31 minutes in the Hartford game to only 24 in the UK game.

In closing:

He’s only 19 years old and if you remember being 18, its probably pretty hard on an ego of a top 2 recruit to be playing 3rd fiddle on a team. Hopefully he’s leans how to adjust because he also has tremendous updside, especially as a scorer. There were similar qualms about Paul George’s care and effort coming out of college too, so if the Hawks do take him, I hope we can wake up the player he can be.

3.) Jaxson Hayes – Texas | Position: PF/C | Height: 6-11  

What to like:

  • Elite athleticism for a big man. Will run the floor, can catch lobs anywhere around the rim, and can cover ground and be a big time help side shot blocker.
  • Solid in the pick and roll at Texas. Has the perfect lob or drop off passing point guard in Trae.
  • 7’3 wingspan adds to the fear factor as a potential top tier rim protector.
  • Shot 82% from the free throw line. So now having to rotate him out in close games.

What to dislike:

  • Unless it is a dunk, lay up, or baby hook, its probably not a great shot for Jaxson. Very raw offensively. Only 18 though and if Brook Lopez can be a decent shooter one day, maybe Jaxson Hayes can to.
  • With lack of said offensive skillset, I’m not sure how well he’d fit next to Collins offensively. The Hawk’s spacing allows John to catch those highlight reel dunks, but if you have an extra defender there helping off Hayes, Hawks’ fans might not get as many of those jump out of your seat moments.

In closing:

Again, another 18 year old Freshman coming into the draft, plenty of time to develop into the player the Hawks want him to be. Has potential to be another great pick and roll option for Trae. Coaches will have to figure out ways to make it work with Hayes and Collins on the floor, but that is why they get paid the big bucks.

4.) Bol Bol – Oregon | Position: C | Height: 7-2

What to like:

  • He can be an unbelievable pick and roll and pick and pop option. Could be a nightmare to gameplan for.
  • He’ll be a thought in everyone’s mind as they attack the rim. He’s seems to be a smart shot blocker and keeps plays alive.
  • Averaged 9.6 rebounds in his 9 college games. 7’8 wing span and good hands is a great combo
  • Shot 52% (13-25) from 3 point range and 77% from the free throw line in those 9 games.

What to dislike:

  • Injuries. We’ve all seen how hard it is for these 7 footers to stay healthy.
  • He’s very thin and he doesn’t have a frame that will add on a lot of muscle mass.
  • Can he actually shoot it well in the NBA or were those just a hot 9 games?…

In closing:

Bol Bol could potentially be an All NBA type player with his versatility on both ends of the floor. He would fit in very well with the Hawks with the spacing and athleticism. But again, it’s extremely risky drafting the 7’2 more slender player, due to more fragile tendons and bones. Longevity it tough at that size.

5.) Romeo Langford – Indiana | Position: G | Height: 6-6

What to like:

  • Attacks and finishes at the rim as well as anyone, not named Zion, in this draft.
  • Would add a player next to Trae who can create their own shot. Has a quick first step and good handle.
  • Definitely leans heavy as a shooting guard, but can play a stint as a point guard and small forward.
  • Can put up points in a hurry, averaged 16.5 points per game in his lone season at Indiana.
  • When he locks in, can be a solid defender

What to dislike:

  • Lackluster passing ability, just created a lot for himself. That could’ve been due to the lack of talent at Indiana that surrounded him.
  • Overall shooting ability needs work. Only shot 27% from 3 point land last season.
  • As mentioned above on defense “when he locks in”. He has been known to have lazy moments & lacked concentration on defense.

In closing:

I’m a fond believer in the way shooting talent can be developed once you get to the NBA. You have to be in today’s game or you are going to be shown the door. And I think Romeo being devoted to solely basketball, will make those shooting percentages rise. He’s working on his pick and roll game and that could be nice for giving Trae a break as the sole operator of the offense. That could also be nice if we were to pair him with one of the bigs in the options above.

So one, possibly two, of these five 18 to 20 year old kids are about to Atlanta Hawks. They are going to be apart of what I believe is going to be an amazing team the next 5 years. All these guys would be extremely fun to have in the ATL. Most would be projects and the risk to reward will be high. SO, let’s just get to June 20th already!


Article by Chase Green

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