28. Atlanta Hawks (Trade with GSW)
Daniel Gafford: Center – Arkansas
Height:6’11 Weight:238 Age:20.7
Wingspan:7’2 Standing Reach:9’2
Should the Atlanta Hawks follow the pattern of this mock draft, the club would still need to look for a long term answer at the center position, after drafting two wing players. Starting center Dewayne Dedmon could leave via free agency in late June and backup Alex Len is a free agent after next season. Rather than wait until pick 35, the Atlanta Hawks could look to package a couple of their three second round picks, to move back into the late first round. In our Mock Draft 2.0, the Golden State Warriors are the trade partner for Atlanta. The Hawks Trade picks 35 and 41 plus cash to the Warriors for pick number 28. This would give the Golden State Warriors an extra draft pick, while absolving them of a guaranteed rookie contract on their books, as they prepare for the possible departure of Kevin Durant in free agency. The Atlanta Hawks select Arkansas center Daniel Gafford with the acquired draft pick.
Daniel Gafford is an extremely mobile big man, with great leaping ability. He sprints the court faster than almost every center he plays against. Gafford is a lob threat on every play with his length and hops. He’s a decent rebounder, especially on the offensive glass, but needs to concentrate on boxing out properly on the defensive boards. Gafford saw his blocks drop from 3.8 per 40 minutes his freshman year, to just 2.8 this past season, as he shouldered a bigger load on offense. However in the NBA he will asked to do the dirty work, so that number should rise back up. He doesn’t offer much in the way of shooting, so he would not be the best fit as a starter for the Atlanta Hawks. He also struggles from the free throw line so his shot will have to be changed, if he is to ever become a passable shooter. However there is still space on the Hawks roster for a rim protecting, floor running, hustler like Gafford, as a backup until he further develops.
Rashad Phillips the draft “Yoda”, is a big proponent of Daniel Gafford’s game and potential. He named Gafford as one of his hidden gems on sportstalk2319.com. Phillips also tweeted out this interesting stat, that measures the combined length and leaping ability of the center prospects:
NextOnes put together this highlight montage of Daniel Gafford’s huge game against the Indiana Hoosiers, provided to us by their YouTube channel:
2018 Stats: Pts:16.9 ORB:2.8 REB:8.7 APG:0.7 STL:0.9 BLK:2.0 FG%:66.0 3P%:0 FT%:59.1
29. San Antonio Spurs
Darius Bazley: Forward – Princeton H.S. Ohio
Height:6’9 Weight:208 Age:18.11
Wingspan:7’0 Standing Reach:8’11
The path that Darius Bazley took to the NBA is a unique one. He had originally committed to Syracuse University, but chose to skip collage and participate in a million dollar internship with the sneaker company New Balance. The issue is that except for pick up games with a select few individuals, Bazley did not play basketball for the entire 2018-19 season. Darius was ranked number 17 in the 2018 High School recruiting class according to 247sports.com. Now that he chose to skip college without playing professional basketball prior to entering the NBA Draft, many draft experts view Bazley as a second round draft pick. In fact SI.com draft analyst Jeremy Woo has him ranked all the way down at number 57 on his NBA Draft Big Board.
Bazley is a client of Klutch Sports, the agency that represents LeBron James. I will admit I can’t truly tell you the weaknesses of Darius Bazley, as my exposure to his game is limited to highlights. However Bazley is a point forward type wing, who moves smoothly around the court. He is a very good ball handler, who seems to be able to get to any spot he desires the court. He posses great length, good hops and good body control, that helps him finish in the paint amongst traffic. Bazley is explosive in transition and is able to operate as a facilitator or lane filler on the fastbreak. He also has solid mechanics on his jump shot. He’s obviously a prospect that will need seasoning, but I predict that teams will be impressed by his skill set in workouts and he will rise into the late first round. The San Antonio Spurs are making this pick to complete the Kawhi Leonard trade. Why not take a risk and swing for the fences, with hopes to be rewarded with a player who could make the trade a little less painful for the Spurs and their fans should he pan out?
Courtside films gives us a glimpse of the skill level that Darius Bazley posses, in this video on their YouTube channel: