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DNHQ Draft Tourney. Jordan Hawkins (2) vs Trayce Jackson-Davis (15)
March Madness hero vs stats darling big
Our Draft Tournament
Yes, we are still having our FOURTH annual DNHQ Draft Tournament, where Dub Nation gets to vote on whom the Warriors should draft via head to head showdowns.
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The draft will happen on Jun 22 2023, 5pm.
If the Warriors end up trading the pick, I’ll end the draft tournament early.
Jordan Hawkins | 6-5 wing | 21 years old | Connecticut
The Scout: Hawkins has a case as arguably the best movement shooter in the class. Connecticut had him sprint off screening actions, using his pristine shooting mechanics and ability to stop on a dime to get open and can open 3s. He averaged 16 points and was a critical piece of the national champion Huskies, keying their perimeter attack with how much teams had to respect his gravitational force. Hawkins also improved a bit off the bounce this past season, becoming an impactful, effective attacker of closeouts. He works defensively, but this is where his lack of strength comes in. Hawkins is extremely skinny and will need to put on some real weight in the coming years to hold up on that end. But he’s an elite shooter who wants to play on that end. Those guys tend to work out.
Richard “Rip” Hamilton, Max Strus
Feel for the Game
Elite shooter with a lightning-quick release and the stamina to run around the floor all game and the intelligence to find open space at a high level. NBA teams will be able to utilize him in off-ball screening actions from Day 1.
Major transition threat who races up the floor to the wings or corners, making himself available for open 3-point opportunities. He’s potent at the 3s in which he must stop on a dime, then rise and fire. But if he must put the ball on the floor for one- or two-dribble side-dribble 3s he can still thrive.
The ball doesn’t stick in his hands. Even though he can stroke 3s he’ll pass up a contested shot on the wing for a teammate to launch an open corner 3, or he’ll attack a closeout then kick it out again.
Smart off-ball defender who actively makes rotations, and helps cover for mistakes or gambles by teammates. Many of his fastbreak chances come as a result of his hustle, whether he’s chasing a loose ball or a rebound.
Solid on-ball defender. He’s a good but not great athlete, so there are limits to his on-ball defensive upside. In a game against the Clippers, he’s not the guy a defense sticks on Kawhi Leonard or Paul George. He’s the guy you can put on Reggie Jackson or Norman Powell.
Hawkins isn’t a primary ball handler who will run the offense. He lacks the handle and wiggle to break down defenders off the dribble or run pick-and-roll like the game’s true point guards.
Under-the-rim at-rim finisher who would benefit from adding a floater and some more touch layups to his repertoire.
Though he's shooting the ball at an elite level as a sophomore, he made only 33.3 percent of his 3s as a freshman.
20. Jordan Hawkins, 21, 6-5 Jr. SG, Connecticut
Hawkins may have briefly blown up this spring as the “NCAA Tournament Guy,” and that may yet see him overvalued on draft night. Nonetheless, his credentials as a movement shooter do warrant first-round consideration despite his limitations in other areas.
First of all, if you need to believe in his shot beyond the eye test of a buttery smooth release that looks exactly the same every time, look at his free-throw percentage. That’ a better long-term predictor than 3-point percentage, and Hawkins made 88.7 percent from the stripe last season. He also got up a ton of attempts, which is another strongly positive indicator, launching 13.8 per 100 possessions while rarely dribbling — he just runs around off the ball until it finds him for a catch-and-shoot.
Investing in limited shooters is always slightly more risky because if they aren’t shooting 40 percent, what do they do? But Hawkins is going to be a guy whose shooting threat bends defenses even when he’s running cold, and he drew fouls at a surprisingly high rate with all his running around and some well-timed shot fakes. Inside the arc, he’s still a limited threat, but nobody is drafting this guy to shoot 2s.
As for his defense, it’s actually pretty competent for this ilk of player. Hawkins is 6-5 with decent length and was notably good at slithering through screens off the ball. (He’d be great at guarding himself.) He lacks strength and can be overpowered, but he slides his feet and applies decent ball pressure and contributed on the glass (7.5 boards per 100 possessions). Realistically, he probably projects as a high-end backup, but he’ll have value.
The case for Hawkins was clear: a really good shooter who had such a pretty stroke and a solid freshman season. Entering the season, I wondered if more could be done with the ball in his hands. Connecticut lost a lot of perimeter playmaking, so the opportunity was there for Hawkins to step up and turn more into a true combo guard.
Instead, Dan Hurley brought in Tristen Newton at the point, weaponized Andre Jackson as a point forward, and doubled down on Hawkins embracing his shooting prowess. Jordan finished the season second in all of college basketball in points scored off screens, shot over 39% from 3-point range on the year, and was the linchpin of college basketball’s most diverse and successful offense.
Hurley’s Huskies reminded me a lot of some of my favorite NBA teams to watch over the last decade. The depth and layers of the playbook were all so fascinating. Their ATO sets were incredibly effective. All of that is due to Hawkins, who never stopped moving and was a threat to score off every action.
After two years in Storrs, it’s clear what Hawkins brings to an NBA team: shooting. He can be the guy in the half-court who consistently drills shots and serves as a gravity-creator for others. He can be a Kyle Korver or Buddy Hield piece who unlocks the playbook for a creative coach. He can change the course of a game once he gets in the zone.
The questions for Hawkins revolve much more around whether he does enough of the other things to consistently see the court. The Huskies finished the season with a top-10 adjusted defense, positional length everywhere, and two elite rim protectors. Hawkins contributed in a positive manner to the defense, but he clearly benefitted from having great personnel next to him.
Even as I write this scouting report, I remain torn on how much to value Hawkins. I love movement shooters and what they can do next to star players; Hawkins is the most seasoned movement threat in this class. He’s also got some frustrating points where he statistically does so little to impact the game other than score. The only players drafted in the last 15 years with as low of a rebound, steal, and assist rate at his size are John Jenkins and Cameron Thomas. Not exactly beacons of well-rounded play.
Still, Hawkins is a great off-ball connector piece and brings first-round value without question. How high in the first will depend on how much he can win me over with his defensive aptitude and upside to add another layer to his game.
Stuck in my mind while analyzing Hawkins is a piece from old friend Mark Deeks over on Forbes this winter. Deeks’ premise was simple: shooting specialists have immense value until they stop making shots efficiently. Then they are just replaceable and borderline unplayable.
The onus is on Hawkins to never tire out off screens, to keep his impact robust through injury, and to be so good in this role that he can play 25-30 minutes a night even without being great elsewhere. What we’ve seen over the last couple of seasons is that some of these shooting specialists don’t end up being great investments for their teams once they ink a second contract, as Deeks points out:
“However, [Duncan] Robinson does serve as an illustration of the dangers of overvaluing that [shooting] premium. Taken to excess, teams can wind up with a healthy, relatively young shooter on a massive contract that they still do not feel that they can play, no matter how recently they thought so highly of him.”
To get a better feel for Hawkins’ upside, I think a lot of it is tied to his on-ball defense. Yes, that confusing defense that I referenced a section ago. If he can provide positive impact guarding two or more types of players (shooting specialists, lead guards, combo guards, smaller spot-up wings, etc.) then he’ll have a very real future as a two-way player. If he’s just a try-hard who still has angular issues at the point of attack, he’ll shorten the leash he plays on and risk falling out of favor if a shooting slump ever arrives.
Every time I try to move Hawkins into the lottery on my big board, I keep wishing he impacted the game in just one more way. That he could rebound well, make solid secondary passes, take a few more risks and pressure in passing lanes on defense — something!
But every team drafting in the middle portion of the first round feels like they would benefit from having a guy like Hawkins. The Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz, and Orlando Magic all feel like strong landing spots for a movement shooter. I think Hawkins will be a fine pro, though he does have a little bit more downside as a prospect than gets attributed to him. He really needs to be an elite shooter to make it.
The good news is that he probably is one.
13. Trayce Jackson-Davis (Dean on Draft)
At a certain point we need to pause from taking mediocre freshmen and take a good upperclassman.
Trayce is having a monster senior year for Indiana. He is currently posting the 7th best BPM in the past 5 years at 14.6. He turns 23 in February so he needs to be great, but he has some shades of Brandon Clarke who was also an old, undersized and highly productive big when he was drafted:
Clarke was one of the few players in the past 5 years to post a higher BPM than Trayce thus far at 16.3, and overall had a slightly more productive senior season on the heals of his insane efficiency inside the arc, making 70.5% from 2. But Trayce is a better rebounder and passer, and has a reported 7’2 wingspan compared to Clarke’s 6’8.
While he is not a guarantee to match Clarke’s productivity as a role player, there is no clear obstacle blocking him from success. He is long, smooth, athletic, and highly productive. It’s scary that he is a 23 year old undersized big who doesn’t shoot 3’s, but the same was true for Clarke and he was Memphis’s best player in their opening round playoff series win vs Minnesota last year.
It’s a limited mold, but it is not a fatally flawed mold. And at a certain point it is worth taking the good players in less desired molds over the bad players in highly desirable molds. Perhaps this is a bit too soon for TJD, but it is hard to underemphasize that the draft is mostly terrible at this point and there are not many compelling choices to rank above him.
Despite promises year after year, those results never came. TJD was thrown into the post time and time again at Indiana, with an entire offense formatted around getting him touches on the block where he can use his left hand to finish. We kept hearing he’d work on a shot during the offseason, then come back the next year and be allergic to taking jumpers.
The college arsenal has always been post-up-driven. His right hand has never improved. And he still doesn’t take jump shots. But going into his senior season with the Hoosiers, Jackson-Davis finally added a new element to his game that could silence those criticisms about a lack of evolution.
He became a skilled passer and facilitator atop the key, a rebound-and-run threat, and a guy who can break down a defense in a variety of ways.
With that in his arsenal, the offensive output for TJD has changed. He’s not longer an undersized roll man who can’t use his right or shoot. He’s a mismatch threat against stiffer bigs due to his ability to take them off the bounce and make the right team play. He can pass or score it, patient but bursty and crafty yet explosive.
Those skills, combined with consistent improvement on defensive discipline, made him such an impactful two-way player. Jackson-Davis led the nation in BPM this year, according to Barttorvik, and is just the 17th player since Barttorvik began calculating advanced stats to have a BPM over 14 in a single season.
There are still questions about how Jackson-Davis, an undersized post player without enough perimeter skill to truly play on the wing, is going to translate in the NBA. After this most recent year at Indiana (and with how undeniably impactful he was), there’s at least an easier path to seeing how he can positively impact the game at the 5.
I’m skeptical about TJD’s fit in the NBA. I have been for a long period of time. The skill gains as a handler and creator help, but they don’t feel as quick in terms of processing speed or advantage exploitation as I’d like them to be. He’s a tad undersized, and while he can be effective on both ends of the floor, I don’t see enough versatility or overall impactfulness to offset said absent versatility that would get me to buy into TJD as a first-round pick.
That said, I understand the appeal of him over many other bigs in this class. The right fit — a team which provides the exact structures he needs to succeed on offense and defense — could cause him to go in the 25-30 range or become a high-value second round guy.
Two teams really stand out as great fits in that regard. One is Sacramento, where he can play as a short roll piece next to De’Aaron Fox or be enabled to handle and create just like Domantas Sabonis. There’s value for the Kings in having a similar-ish type of player on the bench to dust off in games Sabonis doesn’t play. The other team is Boston, where his feel and processing work in their system and he is about as switchable of a big as you’ll find in the second round. He’d benefit a ton from behind around Al Horford for a year.
My skepticism over his NBA fit exists so long as Jackson-Davis remains a complete non-shooter. It’s just really hard to be an undersized, non-shooting big in the NBA these days, which makes it a high bar for TJD to clear for rotational impact.
Bonus video of NBA Combine workout at https://twitter.com/draftexpress/status/1659929045742637057?s=61&t=P_FoYb59qpl6sz-fj5Z51g
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