It has been a long while since the folks at ATL All Day weighed in with the latest from ESPN”s Chad Ford, as his post-lottery mock draft (in which he projected James Young to Atlanta) seems to be far away in the rear view mirror. With that, Ford released his latest mock draft on Tuesday morning, and the most recent projection has Danny Ferry and the Hawks going with Bosnian big man Jusuf Nurkic with the 15th overall selection.
Since Danny Ferry has been on board, the Hawks have a track record of finding top international talent. And with a pretty gaping hole in the paint, Nurkic seems like a good fit. He’s huge and is putting up great per-minute numbers in the Adriatic League this year.
The Hawks’ other big need is shooting, especially from the 2. Zach LaVine is a real option here. While LaVine is trying to show everyone that he’s a point guard and might be down the road, most teams think that at least at the beginning of his career, he’s more likely to be a 2. His athleticism and shooting ability, along with terrific upside make him a very intriguing prospect.
Ford’s reference to Atlanta’s “big need” with shooting seems to be a bit out of place, but aside from that, this is an interesting selection. Nurkic would fit the theoretical need for a hulking big man alongside Al Horford, but with 2013 1st-round pick Lucas Nogueira still in the picture and guys like Pero Antic still on the premises, there is no obvious upgrade here.
In this scenario, the Hawks would be forced to pass on guys like Michigan State’s Adreian Payne, UCLA’s Zach LaVine and Duke’s Rodney Hood in favor of Nurkic, and that puts Chad Ford on a bit of a ledge. Stay tuned for more as the draft approaches.