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.


Keith Box said...

I need you to convince me on Bagley. I see him as a guy who was able to dominate in college because he was so much more athletic than everyone around him and had the motor to match. However, I don't see a lot of skill development with him at this point. You mention that he's a solid shooter, but this is something that I have doubts about translating to the NBA. His 39% on three point jumpers was on a very low volume of three point attempts, and his 63% free throw percentage is not a good indicator that his jump shot will translate. He's also a 41% shooter on two point jumpers. I guess one trend that did happen was that he showed improvement overall, because as late as February, I think he was around 32% on his jump shots as a whole. So, maybe that trend of improvement is a good sign, but I think it falls victim to the small sample size.

Defensively, he's a mess at this point. I can't find very many players who were as bad defensively as Bagley is that went on to become solid defenders in the NBA.

Jason Walker said...

I am on the record as liking both Bamba and JJJ over Bagley, but I do like the touch Bagley has shown. Great point on the jump shots --clearly not something he has had to do or was asked to do at Duke last season. I see him as a Julius Randle type player and that is a very good skill.

Is he considerably better than Collins? Maybe not, but that's a testament to how good a pick Collins was last season. Having them both does not hurt in the short term, there are plenty of minutes to move around, even if there is some overlap.

Again, I'd rather Bamba or JJJ because I believe there is less of that overlap and see more ceiling from either of those guys, but if the Hawks end up with Bagley, I don't see that as a loss.

Keith Box said...

Duplicating positions like this seems very 76ersish during their rebuild, and that is one of the reasons it took them so long to build.

Jason Walker said...

Or even Hawksian circa 2005, no?

Keith Box said...

Yeah. You're right.