The Blue Route NBA Mock Draft: Pick #10 – Atlanta Hawks

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

Current State of the Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta finished with 29 wins last season, but there is more than enough to make all Hawks fans excited for the ’19/20 season. Trae Young (20), John Collins (21), and Kevin Huerter (20) form one of the youngest cores in the NBA. It’s crazy to think that just five years ago, the Hawks were a team that won 60 games and finished first in the Eastern Conference. How did the young kids perform, and how do the Hawks look heading into this offseason?

Lloyd Pierce entered Atlanta as a first year NBA head coach, and from an outsider’s opinion, the Hawks seemed to have done a great job with that choice. For anyone who doesn’t know, Lloyd Pierce was an assistant head coach with the Philadelphia 76ers between 2013 and 2018. From everything I’ve seen, Pierce has shown to be a great leader in the locker room.

In terms of watchability, the Hawks weren’t close to the other dumpster fire lottery teams, including the Knicks, Suns, and Cavs. Pierce has the team playing hard and has shown the ability to get the most out of one of the youngest rosters in the NBA.

The Hawks seem to keep taking strong talent from the Sixers. First it was Malik Rose in 2015 (GET THAT SUGAR HONEY ICED TEA OUT OF HERE), then it was Lloyd Pierce 2018. Joking aside, we are all very proud of the job Lloyd Pierce has done in Atlanta. Meanwhile, any discussion about the Atlanta Hawks begins with Trae Young.

A look at Trae Young’s rookie season…

Trae Young (20 years old) had an explosive rookie season that only got better and better as the season progressed (24 plus points per game after the AS break). A tough November had the doubters all over social media.

Most importantly, Trae had more and more success once he figured out how to score inside the three point line, especially via floaters around the free throw line. And he was clutch. While they weren’t all game winners, Trae Young made numerous memorable 4th quarter shots.

As expected Trae Young was brutal on defense (113.6 rating) and one of the worst in the league in defensive plus/minus. Also, his teammate John Collins deserves to be talked about more. Collins was one of the best rebounders in the league, finishing 9th best in the NBA in offensive rebounding (12.3%). John Collins’ 19.5 points per game and 35% from three should garner him more consideration for Most Improved Player.

Looking Ahead into 2019 Free Agency

As a Sixers fan, for me, it’s all about Dewayne Dedmon. With franchise cornerstone John Collins and a big man prospect likely entering the fold (see below), all attention will be on whether or not the Hawks re-sign Dedmon this summer.

The Hawks have significant cap space this offseason as General Manager Travis Schlenk has done excellent work rebuilding. The majority of the core remains intact – Trae Young, Alex Len, Taurean Prince, John Collins, Kevin Huerter, and DeAndre Bembry.

Kent Bazemore has a player option while Justin Anderson, Alex Poythress, and Vince Carter join Dewayne Dedmon as free agents. With tons of cap space and multiple first rounders this year and next, the Hawks should be one of the busiest teams in the NBA.

Do they continue the rebuild and look to the future? Do they target a rim protecting big to pair with John Collins and jumpstart the rebuild? Plenty of options in Hotlanta this summer, and many reasons to be excited if you’re an Atlanta Hawks fan.

The Selection – Jaxson Hayes

According to Jonathan Givony and The Athletic on May 31st, the Atlanta Hawks are shopping their picks in order to move up in the draft. How much do the Atlanta Hawks love RJ Barrett is the question all Atlanta Hawks fans should be asking themselves. However, no one should read into anything they hear less than three weeks until the NBA Draft. If the Hawks do decide to stay put, I predict that they will select Jaxson Hayes, the young big man out of Texas.

First things that come to mind in regards to Jaxson Hayes: defensive upside and athleticism. Jaxson Hayes was named All Defense in the Big 12 and had the 3rd best block percentage (10.6%) and blocks per game (2.2) in the NCAA. Jaxson moves extremely well as a center prospect. Hayes finished his freshman season at Texas averaging 10 points and 5 boards.

Rookie Prediction

Protect and attack the rim. This is where Jaxson Hayes excels. I love the potential fit with Trae Young and Hayes rolling to the basket. The two man game of Trae and Jaxson in a pick-and-roll offense has a ton of potential. What makes Jaxson Hayes so unique is his ability to defend away from the basket. His quick feet and 7’3″ wingspan make him a terror in the passing lanes and on the perimeter.

On the other end, this is a very raw prospect through and through. Just like any freshman, Jaxson needs to learn how to stay out of foul trouble (5.7 fouls per 40 minutes). He needs to improve his rebounding (8.6 per 40 minutes) and shooting ability. Any lottery team that selects Hayes should have the expectation that Jaxson should require 1-2 years of NBA growth and development.

Similar to Trae Young, I expect Jaxson Hayes to improve as the season progresses. I don’t expect Hayes to put up major numbers his rookie year. Even Jaren Jackson Jr., a much better yet raw center prospect, averaged only 13.8 points per game last season. I think anywhere between 8-9 points, 6-7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game would be seen as an excellent rookie season for Jaxson Hayes.