2. R.J. Barrett 6’6 208 Wing – Duke
2018 Stats: Pts:22.6 REB:7.7 APG:4.3 STL:0.9 BLK:0.4 FG%:45.4 2P%:52.9 3P%:30.8 FT%:66.5
R.J. Barrett is the consensus number three player on the draft boards of most NBA experts. In fact some analysts even have Barret ranked number two, such as this big board by Julian Andrews of the Timberwolves NBA.com website. So it figures that R.J. Barrett would be the logical top choice for the Atlanta Hawks to target in a draft day move. That thought process is certainly understandable, as R.J Barrett has the highest ceiling and lowest floor of any attainable prospect in this year’s draft. His ceiling is said to be a James Harden type player. His floor is believed to be a less athletic, less efficient version of DeMar DeRozan.
The reason I do not have R.J. Barrett as the number one draft trade target for the Atlanta Hawks, is system fit. R.J. Barrett is a wing that is most comfortable being the primary ball handler. He dominates the basketball, a lot like James Harden and Luka Doncic do in the NBA. Trae Young is the maestro of the Atlanta Hawks offense. His usage percentage of 28.5 tied him with Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder, for number 25 in the entire NBA. The Hawks offense could certainly benefit from having another ball handler on the floor at times, to allow Trae Young to utilize his shooting ability off of the ball. However a ball dominant scorer, would not be the best fit for the Atlanta Hawks.
R.J. Barrett is an erratic jump shooter at this stage in his development and that does not work well for a team that attempted the third most three pointers in the league last season. Barrett would have to improve those percentages and except a role as finisher off of Trae Young passes, to be a fit here in Atlanta. R.J. possesses the tools to be a good defender, but typically chooses to conserve his energy for the offensive end of the court. The main reason that Barrett is unlikely to wear an Atlanta Hawks cap on draft night, is that the cost it would take in order to move up five spots to number three, would be steep. It could potentially cost all three first round picks, or number eight and number ten, along with a future first round pick. While R.J. Barrett checks off most of the boxes that Atlanta covets, especially the desire and work ethic portion, three first round picks is too heavy of a price to pay, for a player that is not an ideal fit.
ESPN break down the game of R.J. Barrett in this YouTube scouting video: