With the eighth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Atlanta Hawks select…

Blue Route is bringing you draft coverage leading up to the NBA draft on June 20th, 2019. The Philadelphia 76ers are slated to select 24th pick in the draft. The NBA draft often sees movement, trades and drama, so to prepare you for various potential outcomes, the Blue Route will be giving you draft profiles for the all of the likely top picks, as well as our very own mock draft.

2019 NBA Mock Draft Results
    1. New Orleans Pelicans – Zion Williamson
    2. Memphis Grizzlies – Ja Morant
    3. New York Knicks – RJ Barrett
    4. Los Angeles Lakers – Jarrett Culver
    5. Cleveland Cavaliers – DeAndre Hunter
    6. Phoenix Suns – Coby White
    7. Chicago Bulls – Cam Reddish
    8. Atlanta Hawks – Sekou Doumbouya
    9. Washington Wizards – Bol Bol 
    10. Atlanta Hawks – Jaxson Hayes 
    11. Minnesota Timberwolves – Nickeil Alexander-Walker
    12. Charlotte Hornets – Darius Garland
    13. Miami Heat – PJ Washington
    14. Boston Celtics – Brandon Clarke
    15. Detroit Pistons – Rui Hachimura
    16. Orlando Magic – Goga Bitazde

Current State of the Atlanta Hawks

This is the Hawks’ third pick of the first round. You can read the previous recaps of the Hawks here and here.

So what has changed since then? The Hawks picked up this pick and a future first round pick in return for taking on Allen Crabbe’s salary and moving Taurean Prince. Prince was going to hit free agency before this core was ready to compete anyway, and Crabbe is an expiring contract, so other than taking on some money, this doesn’t change anything for the Hawks currently.

Looking ahead into 2019 Free Agency

Again, you can read the previous recaps at the links above. As I wrote then, “the Hawks’ most notable contribution to free agency will almost assuredly be taking on salary so another team can sign a player.” They did that to acquire this pick. They still have $35M in cap space. Don’t be surprised if this happens another time or two – Oklahoma City stands out as a team that may look to dump salary into the Hawks’ space to try to get under the luxury tax. Given the rate they’re acquiring picks, a real interesting question is whether they buy out Crabbe and Bazemore to make space for more rookies. Crabbe and Bazemore are both overpaid for what they bring to the table but are quality NBA roleplayers and could be useful to contenders.

The Selection – Nassir Little

This pick was initially made for the Nets, but works just as well for the Hawks. Little is a young, raw athlete who was the #3 HS prospect. Unfortunately, he got lost in the shuffle at UNC and failed to make an impact. As a result, Little has one of the larger draft ranges among prospects this year. Is he the guy who looked like a stud coming out of high school or the guy who wasn’t able to crack the starting lineup in college?

Well, both. Players like Little are the hardest to predict into the future. There is no doubt that he has the physical tools necessary to compete at the next level, he has a good head on his shoulders, and watching him, it is easy to see why he was considered a top HS player. At the same time, he simply does not have NBA level skills right now. It is impossible to point to one thing and say, “If he just improves this, he’ll be good.” He needs to improve his entire game. Luckily, he will have no dearth of time or opportunity to do so in Atlanta. He will certainly improve his game. The only question is whether he can ever reach the level necessary to be a quality NBA player.

Rookie Prediction

As long as he goes to a rebuilding team like Atlanta, Little will get game time no matter how poorly he plays. However, if a contender drafts him as a long term project, he may be limited to mop up and G-League action. Little wasn’t good enough to beat out Kenny Williams or Garrison Brooks for a starting spot in college. He’s not ready to compete in the NBA. If he does play, he’ll likely be one of the worst players in the NBA this year. Whoever drafts him is not looking for rookie year contributions.

Projected Stats, Per Game: 10 min, 3.5 pts on poor shooting, 2 reb, .4 ast, .3 stl, .3 blk, .5 to in his rookie season.