Joel Embiid, the center from Kansas and one of the top 3 prospects in the NBA draft went down with a stress fracture in his right foot and had surgery on Friday. He was being strongly considered by the Cavs for the first overall pick. However this injury combined with his back problems, are causing his draft stock to slide. With his huge potential, (He is very comparable to Hakeem Olajuwon) I would be very surprised if he slid past the Magic at 4. This seemingly doesn’t affect the Hawks pick at 15, but the shuffling around of every team’s draft board allows some interesting possibilities.
Namely that the Hawks have a good shot at landing Dario Saric. Many mocks has Saric going at 12 to the Magic. However if the Magic get Embiid, they will likely go with a wing player with their 12th pick. They also will probably go with someone who can play immediately rather than going with Saric, who might stay in Europe 1 more year. After the magic are the Suns and Timberwolves, both of whom are looking for guys who can shoot and contribute now. This leaves Atlanta with a very real chance of landing Saric.
Saric is an ultra-smart point forward who plays in the Adriatic League over in Europe. He averaged 17 points 10 rebounds 3 assists and 1 steal per game. He can run the game from the post and his court vision allows him to see opportunities to make plays like a point guard. He can score from the inside or outside, is decent on post-ups, and handles the ball really well. He also has the ability to rack up steals and blocks.
However, Saric doesn’t really have the body to defend NBA power forwards, which was his position in Croatia. He is 6’10”, but has a wing span of only 6’10”, which gives him a disadvantage against the typical NBA power forward who measures at 6’9″ but with a 7’2″ wingspan. The huge wingspan of NBA power forwards allows them to defend well and generate blocks. He is generating blocks and steals against power forwards in the Adriatic League, but that is due to his competition being much smaller than in the NBA. He also allowed opponents to shoot 49% against him in the post. So questions remain as to if he can actually defend his position. There are some holes in his offensive game as well. He struggles with turnovers (4 per game, 19% turnover rate) and his shot can be inconsistent. Even with his warts, If Saric falls to 15 the Hawks will take him regardless of if he chooses to stay another year in Europe. Saric at 15 would be a huge win for the Hawks even if it is a long term thing, as Saric is projected to be an All-Star by scouts.
While we are talking about the Hawks draft, I have to talk a little about Kyle Anderson. Anderson has been brought to Atlanta twice for workouts, and apparently the Hawks like what they see. Anderson played many positions for UCLA in his 2 seasons and many NBA teams are confused as to what to do with him. He played point guard his first season with the Bruins and forward the next, putting up gaudy stats. 10 points 9 rebounds 4 assists 2 steals and a block per game in first season and 15 points 9 rebounds 7 assists 2 steals and a block in his second season. He almost doubled his assists per game while only increasing his turnovers per game by one from his rookie to sophomore season, showing improvement in his basketball IQ. He has the size to defend multiple positions in the NBA measuring in at 6’9” 235 pounds with 7’2” wingspan. He can also rebound like a freaking machine, rebounding 25 percent of his UCLA’s total rebounds. His main drawback is his defense. He has the body to defend guys on the block, but hasn’t shown the ability to yet and he lacks the speed to defend guys on the perimeter. He also isn’t particularly athletic. And teams seem to have no idea how they are going to use him. But, if he is getting multiple looks from the Hawks I’m sure Coach Bud has plan.
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