Atlanta Hawks: 5 options for pick No. 10 in 2019 NBA Draft

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images /
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Photo by Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images
Photo by Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images /

1. Brandon Clarke

Yes, he was ranked the No. 1 option at No. 8 in Lindsey’s piece as well. This belaboring isn’t out of laziness though; it’s out of emphasis.

The main thing keeping Brandon Clarke out of talks at the top of draft boards is his age, as he will turn 23 early on in his rookie season. But a huge part of this was his transfer from San Jose State to Gonzaga, where he became a featured piece of a very successful Bulldogs team.

A raw prospect at SJSU, he looks much more refined now. Despite only being 6’8″ with an identical wingspan, Clarke blocked as many shots as he missed in 2018-19. He has learned to harness his incredible athletic gifts into eye-popping rejections and dunks.

In that way, he’s not too different from current Hawk John Collins, which some would argue is redundant for Atlanta. What separates them, and arguably makes them a fit together, is also what makes Clarke such an underrated prospect.

In every sense of the word, Clarke is a team player. A gritty defender who can switch onto perimeter players in the pick-and-roll, he provides value in an area where Collins is lacking. In addition, Clarke makes excellent reads of the floor, moving the ball in a way that makes coaches grin.

Though not a shooter yet, his touch near the basket inclines scouts to believe he will develop a perimeter game. His fluidity when handling the ball makes him a weapon in space regardless, as he can drive with a controlled body.

Clarke’s playmaking and physical tools make him a deadly weapon on the short roll, especially next to a guard with as much gravitational pull as Trae Young. Akin to how Stephen Curry and Draymond Green break down defenses in the pick-and-roll, Young and Clarke could do the same.

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Should the defenders switch, Clarke can attack a mismatch and make plays on the roll, or let Young cook his opponent. Should they double-team Trae and curb the threat of his expanded range, Clarke can make precision plays in a 4-on-3 setting. Sound familiar?