New ESPN Draft Debates Atlanta’s Best Pick in Terms of Need and Best Value
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New ESPN Draft Debates Atlanta’s Best Pick in Terms of Need and Best Value

We’re almost two weeks away from the NBA Draft and the Atlanta Hawks have a huge decision to make about the future of their franchise. Yes, there is no obvious superstar and talent in this draft to choose from, but there are plenty of skilled players who would fit the Hawks and make them a better team. The Hawks need to make the right decision though and that is the process they are currently following. There is still much debate over who the Hawks will actually take in the draft, with French prospects Alex Sarr and Zaccharie Risacher, as well as UConn center Donovan Clingan, being the favorites for the pick.

In ESPN’s latest mock draft, draft analysts Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo made a pick that would fill the Hawks’ biggest need and made a pick that would be the biggest value for the Hawks. Givony chose Clingan, while Woo chose Risacher.

Here’s what they each had to say about the choices:

Givony’s choice that meets the greatest need: Donovan Clingan | UConn | C | Age: 20.2 years

“The 36-win Hawks, who have one of the worst defenses in the NBA, could surely benefit from the addition of the draft’s best rim protector, Clingan, who could remind coach Quin Snyder of his days in the NBA. The Utah Jazz with Rudy Gobert patrolling the paint Clingan, ranked No. 3 in the ESPN Top 100, could be a great pick-and-roll partner with Trae Young, as he sets killer screens, has hands. great, can facilitate off-the-dribble handoffs and zoom actions and is a good passer and finisher.”

Woo’s choice that offers the best value for money: Zaccharie Risacher | Bourg (France) | SF | 19.1

“Risacher has a great foundational foundation from a young age to become a valuable starting wing who excels on both ends. He also has a strong developmental floor. The No. 1 pick isn’t as clear cut this year — and Atlanta might need some rim protection more than another wing – but Risacher is the highest-ranked prospect for Givony and me, and he’s coming off the board here.

Interestingly, neither mentioned Sarr, the player many analysts consider to be the best prospect in the draft. Sarr would have the highest ceiling in the draft and, as an athletic shot blocker who could potentially stretch the court (his offense is a work in progress), he would be a great fit for the Hawks and is who I would select if I was the Hawks.

It seems increasingly likely that the Hawks will draft one of these players and Risacher and Clingan appear to have more buzz than Sarr at this point. Sarr was the popular pick right after the Hawks won the lottery, but Risacher and Clingan have been the subject of much discussion since then. A No. 1 trade could still be in the cards for the Hawks, especially if they like Clingan the most.

Clingan is a forward I really like from a defensive standpoint for the Hawks, but I have a lot of questions about his offensive game, as well as his ability to guard in space. He is, however, an excellent shot blocker, rebounder and passer for a big man and might be the most play-ready prospect in the draft.

Risacher seems to have mixed opinions, particularly on his ceiling. He fits the 3-D archetype that is so important in the league, but he doesn’t do much with the ball in his hands and does most of his damage off the ball. He is also not yet a defender of confinement. He’s made huge strides with his shooting and could be a knockdown shooter, but it’s hard to put a player in the top spot if he can’t create on offense himself.

However, it is worth repeating that this situation still appears very fluid. I don’t think anyone really knows what the Hawks are going to do yet and they still have a few weeks to decide.

In an episode of the Lowe Post podcast, ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony and Zach Lowe discussed the top of the draft and what the Hawks could end up doing:

“And so especially Atlanta, I think it starts a really long process for them where it’s like, wow, we’re drafting No. 1, that’s amazing. And then it’s, holy shit, now we actually have to deciding who to take No. 1. And it’s not like one of those years where it’s like, Victor (Wembanyama) at the top, boom, done or Anthony Davis, LeBron, whatever, Zion.

There is no clear consensus. I’ve heard they’re trying to invite between six and eight guys, but there’s also talk that they might consider going down, taking multiple shots, which I think might be a play interesting in this draft. . They have a lot to sort out internally first, Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, Clint Capela, De’Andre Hunter. There are so many moving parts on their roster that, you know, how do they see themselves?

Do they, you know, does this start, you know, a potential rebuilding process where they’re looking at maybe trading one or both of Trae Young or Dejounte Murray? And you know, what’s the appetite there? You know, first of all, within the front office and then with the coaching staff, ownership, you know, there’s going to be a lot of voices there in terms of where we’re going, which is normal. I mean, every team in the NBA goes through this process, you know, where are we? Where are things, where are we going to be and how do we perceive them? And I was told that it would take time to understand this process and sift through the options, you know, understand, you know, what to do.

And I said, you know, even since, you know, our very first mock draft in February 2023, we said something like, this could be a draft where we don’t know who the No. 1 pick is until for Adam Silver to stand on the podium and announce the choice, which is rare. You know, we saw it, you know, a few years ago with Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith. But usually you know who the No. 1 pick is going to be. You know what the top five is going to look like. And we really have no idea. Part of the reason is that one of the guys at the top, Zaccharie Risacher, just finished his season. You know, instead of coming here to start his pre-draft process, his workouts and, you know, getting ready for interviews, he had to fly to France and Italy.

So I took advantage of the lull between the conference finals and the finals and some days between games to start making calls. And I, everyone says that no one has any idea what Atlanta is going to do. Everyone tells me it’s too early. Atlanta doesn’t know what Atlanta is going to do.”

Before finishing their conversation about the Hawks, Givony and Lowe talked about UConn center Donovan Clingan and where he could go, with Givony mentioning that Hawks head coach Quin Snyder likes Clingan:

“Yeah, so we have Donovan Clingan ranked No. 3 on our big board. You can make his case up to second best prospect or even No. 1. I heard Atlanta likes Donovan Clingan. Quin Snyder especially since Donovan Clingan and Atlanta had I think one of the worst defenses in the NBA in recent years and a great way to solve that problem is to draft a guy with a 9’7 standing reach who is the best blocker in shots this draft and who has anchored the national championship defense for the past two years.

These next few weeks and this entire decision-making process are going to be crucial for the Hawks. Let’s see what happens.