Head coach Mike Budenholzer has made it clear that the Atlanta Hawks will target the best player available at the 2017 NBA Draft in Brooklyn, New York on June 22.
Even with the plethora of options grabbing the best player available allows, insurance for starting point guard Dennis Schroder with the first pick of Round 2 (No. 31) may be one of the most overlooked necessities.
Until veteran Jose Calderon was acquired in March from Golden State, rookie backup Malcolm Delaney was Schroder’s replacement of fill-in during quick breathers. It may turn out that neither Calderon (unrestricted free agent) nor Delaney (a not-so-perfect fit in Coach Bud’s system) return to Atlanta.
That means, after snagging potentially the best player available at pick No. 19 in the first round, it may prove beneficial for the Hawks to look at a point guard to start Round 2. Often times these hidden, second-round gems are talent-heavy and experienced, giving Atlanta an opportunity to select a potential steal at No. 31.
Atlanta could always make a run after yet another veteran for the position, though that may not be ideal, financially. Plus, quality floor leaders – first-round-worthy guards that may slip into Round 2 –can be found at No. 31, specifically options that fit the Hawks system perfectly.
Here are three of the best at the point guard position (not in order). They’re expected to be available, and coincidentally, they each hail from the Big XII Conference:
Frank Mason III – Kansas
Tate’s Take: Markelle Fultz didn’t win national Player of the Year. Neither did Lonzo Ball or Josh Jackson. Instead it was Jackson’s teammate, Mason, who at one time held Towson as his best recruiting offer.
It’s highly unlikely Kansas, without Mason, would have achieved their 13th consecutive conference title. He impressed more than anyone at the collegiate level last season and has grown each season in Lawrence. It’s hard to go wrong with the combination of proven leader and winner like Mason.
Mason averaged 21 points and five assists per game while shooting 49 percent from the field, 80 percent from the free-throw line and 47 percent from distance. Though stout he’s undersized. But shorter guards are finding their way back into the league. Think Jameer Nelson.
Monte Morris – Iowa State
Tate’s Take: Morris led the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio and will not lose you games with mistakes, a notion that can’t be said about some guards in Round 1. Morris may not appear great at anything, but he’s good in many areas. His ability to guard pro point guards with size and strength will help and he’s an ideal pick for any franchise looking for a solid player won’t bounce back and forth from the NBA to the D-League.
Morris recorded single digits in scoring only four times last season, but netted six double-doubles and a triple double. He added 10 20-plus point games in 35 contests. Morris will contend with any backup point guard for playing time next season regardless of the organization.
Jawun Evans – Oklahoma State
Tate’s Take: Unlike Mason III and Morris, Evans has the most upside and potential due to his young age and athleticism. Evans carried a huge scoring load and was also was the Pokes’ go-to when they needed a spectacular play.
What makes Evans truly special? He shows up on the biggest of stages. Against Connecticut, North Carolina, Wichita State, West Virginia, Kansas and Michigan, Evans’ average spiked greater than five points per game off his season average to 24.5.
Open your dictionary under the term “2017 NBA Draft steals.” That’s where you will find Evans’ name written in bold.