Monday, May 21, 2018

Luka Doncic Rumor: Seven Thoughts about the latest ESPN news

This will look a lot like the tweets I sent out yesterday when rumors of the Kings and Hawks passing on Luka Doncic started rolling from my old friend (from DraftCity days at RealGM) Jonathan Givony of ESPN. There is a lot to review as far as the emotions one might feel with such news about a prominent prospect in an upcoming draft. As Hawks fans, especially, there can be strong feelings of fear about the draft, after all. So here are some thoughts about this rumor, with a bit more commentary than the Twitter offering yesterday. 

1. They have already been told to pass by Doncic camp. It is possible that, already, the Luke Doncic representation has reached out to teams in the lottery that are a hard pass for Doncic, thereby using the leverage of Euroleague to help shape his destination. It's smart to do this, to pick a specific place that Doncic and his folks feel are better fits for him than, say, the Kings or the Hawks. Let's say he can steer himself to the Cavs at 8 (considering LBJ, of course) or the Sixers at 10. Is not that better, on paper, than taking on the Kings or the rebuilding Hawks or even Dallas? Makes sense. So if that conversation has already happened, then it behooves the Hawks or Kings to maybe get out in front of the rejection by saying, hey, we'd rather a big than Doncic.

2. Two words: Smoke Screen One tradition of the lead up to the NBA Draft is that teams are constantly putting out misinformation for many reasons, usually to disguise the actual intent of that team so that another won't steal their guy. Mayyyybe, the Kings and Hawks are engaging in such chicanery here, who knows.

3. There are legit concerns about how some of the interior playmaking will translate to NBA. Mentioned this in the latest look at each of the prospects (see recent articles), but watching Doncic he relies on a lot of savvy ball moves to create space and to get into the lane. Will those same avenues be available in a quicker, lengthier NBA? It is enough to question, even if you cannot question his Elite vision, CourtIQ or shooting.

4. MOAR BAMBA This could also be called MOAR JJJ or MOAR Bagley, but the Hawks might feel it is more difficult to find a defining five out there than a playmaking guard. And they might be right. The difference is that all three of those guys have lower floors than Doncic, who I said in that last summary article that he has the best chance of reaching his 80th percentile career outcome.

5. Priming the pump to take potential offers.
Nothing sends a signal to teams looking to trade up than saying you might not be interested in a premium prospect others might covet. Leaking information to press is a good way to get the word out.

6. Lord please, not another Chris Paul fiasco. This is the biggest gulp the Hawks fans will deal with if the Hawks do have a chance to draft Doncic and pass to take a big. Sooooo many draft pundits had Marvin Williams high on the board with elite measurements, etc. And while there those of us who were desperate for the type of elite leadership and PG skills Chris Paul showed at Wake Forest, there were definitely others who saw the ceiling potential of Marvin and wanted to go that route. It turns out as the biggest miss in Hawks draft history since 2000 (have to qualify because the overall draft miss list is staggering). Even the disaster of the Shelden Williams guarantee, which is the actual bigger mess of a draft than this one, doesn't match the agony of passing on CP3 to take Marvin. 7. And this is the most important: It is early and we will hear way more misdirection than truth.
There are 31 days until the draft -- too get too committed to NBA gossip and rumors so soon will eave you an emotional wreck, twisted in 1000 different ways by the time Adam Silver opens the 2018 NBA Draft. Have you other thoughts about the Doncic rumor? Feel free to talk about it in the Comments Area or single me out on Twitter @JasonWalkerNBA.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

2018 NBA Draft: Top Six Players for the Hawks to review (revisted)

We posted a quick look a few weeks ago at the top players of this 2018 NBA Draft and now let me revisit those players, with quick comments on Pros and Cons of each of them.

It looks like a fairly flat draft from 1-6, meaning that all the guys have flaws and there is no mountaintop pick in this draft, a guy you have to have if you are #1.

All of which probably means the Hawks will get the top pick.

1. Luka Doncic, G, International

Pros: Elite court vision and CourtIQ, elite shooter and great range

Cons: Unsure about how his quickness and penetration will translate to the NBA.

I finally sat down to look at Doncic and came away understanding why people like him a lot. He has the floor vision and playmaking of a savvy vet, but he has yet to turn 20 years old. He has a solid step back jump shot from long range and hits the open man more often that a top flight quarterback.

He is the safest pick of the draft, even if he is not a superstar, he has the best chance of hitting his 80th percentile outcome.

2. DeAndre Ayton, Big, Arizona

Pros: Height, ability to finish, solid shot from outside

Cons: Does not defend the rim or play defense like you would expect from someone his height. Fades from view at times on the court.

Ayton has been a consensus #1 for a while amongst touts, but I am not convinced. Maybe he will do fine and be a solid center for a decade, but I don't see the separation of talent that necessitates taking him at the top as compared to the other members of the top six.

3. Marvin Bagley, Big, Duke

Pros: Unstoppable motor, very good in the post, solid outside shot, excellent rebounder and very efficient. Super quick off the floor.

Cons: Defense lacked (as did all of Duke last season), only uses left hand on offense could be exploited in the pros.

I love Marvin Bagley and feel he will be a solid starter in the NBA. He plays super efficiently, provides a ton of offense and I believe showed the framework, led by his strong motor, to improve defensively with better surroundings.

4. Mohamed Bamba, Big, Texas

Pros: Massive 7'9 wingspan, good instincts on the defensive end, showed a lot of disruption against top matchups as well as the creampuffs, has been a very visible worker in the offseason to get better, excellent height, explosive off the floor. Ran the floor very well with good hands (when above the waist).

Cons: Looks raw offensively at times, loses the ball in traffic, role may be out of place in contrast to the top teams in the NBA. Already the old age of 20.

The shotblocker, and big man in general, has lost his appeal in the NBA. While Clint Capela has a great season, the other three conference finalists sport shooting bigs or no big at all. I love Bamba's ability to disrupt on defense, his work ethic this offseason to add the three to his repertoire and ability to finish around the hoop, but if he can't be out there because teams go small, then he is not an anchor to build around.

5. Jaren Jackson, Jr, Big, Michigan State

Pros: Great defensive instincts, good rebounder, solid outside shooting that can fill the threes and d(efense) role on teams, youngest off the lotto bigs.

Cons: Also somewhat raw in terms of skills, foul and turnover prone.

JJJ looks real good and compares favorably to Bamba, save for the additional height and length. If you believe the NBA is moving on from those types of bigs, then JJJ is the perfect smallball big to add here instead.

6. Trae Young, G, Oklahoma

Pros: Fierce range and confidence, can score the basketball

Cons: Small and ease to move off his center when driving, volume based inefficient shooter, super high volume in college likely won't be seen in NBA, high turnover rates.

I believe that Young is going to end up being best suited for top reserve role on a team, like top 6th men Jamal Crawford and Louis Williams, who put up high usage backcourt scoring and playmaking off the bench.

Not listed, but considerable:

Michael Porter may end up being a top scorer but the back injury that cost him his only season in NCAA serves as a red flag for teams needing to invest in something more certain for the long term. Porter showed amazing athleticism in high school and reminds of Andrew Wiggins, which would be funny if he ended up with the Cavs.

Mikal Bridges might be my favorite player outside the top six. His wingspan,offensive abilities and versatility are excellent and will make an excellent consolation prize for teams sliding out of the top six.

Leave anyone you want out? Disagree with the pros/cons? Leave a note in the Comments Area or converse with me on Twitter @JasonWalkerNBA.