This past Friday, as everyone expected, Jordan Hawkins announced on Instagram and on ESPN that he’s forgoing the final two years of his collegiate career to head to the NBA. This is a move that surprises nobody as Hawkins was a key piece of UConn’s national championship effort, averaging 16 points per game in the six-game run. Even before the run, the sophomore has long been a mainstay on draft boards thanks to his great positional size and generational shooting stroke. In most media outlets, Hawkins is projected to be picked between 15-30th, in position to help out a team that likely was eliminated early in the postseason. Which team provides the best fit though? DC Sports discusses that question in this week’s roundtable…
Associate Sports Editor
Golden State Warriors
Few would be surprised if Hawkins fell to No. 20, the approximate spot where the Warriors are going to pick. A team can never have too many shooters and the former Husky guard would thrive in an offense where he’s the third or fourth biggest shooting threat on the floor at a time. He could take the early portion of his career to learn from two of the best to ever do it in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. They could help guide Hawkins’ development, especially in the art of coming off screens, a staple of the Warriors offense. He wouldn’t be a feature piece of the offense right away, a few years down the road, Hawkins could take the reins and thrive, not unlike his development in Storrs.
If Memphis is lucky enough to see Connecticut’s dynamic sharpshooter fall to the low-20s, they shouldn’t think twice about adding some much needed firepower from beyond the arc to their roster. The Grizzlies have opened a large window of championship contention for years to come behind the prolific play of Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr. Their perimeter shooting however is a major concern. Despite locking up the No. 2 seed in the western conference this season, the Memphis Grizzlies shot the eighth lowest from beyond the arc at 35.1%, and ranked 17th in made 3-pointers per game at 12.0. Taylor Jenkins’ squad would definitely be improved with another catch and shoot weapon who can elevate for clean looks using off-ball screens.
Los Angeles Lakers
Jordan Hawkins is a consensus top-20 pick with a lottery ceiling, and just outside of the lottery are the Lakers, who need a player with ball handling and perimeter shooting. Hawkins can shoot from the perimeter in many ways and could become the best catch-and-shoot player in the draft. Catch-and-shoot was the only way he could score last season but has expanded his game to off-screen and pull-up shooting. He has been compared to the likes of fellow UConn alumnus Rip Hamilton. The Lakers are not a strong team from 3-point range, averaging just 10.8 3-pointers made per game and just three players averaging over two 3-pointers made per game. Add in one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in Hawkins, and the Lakers could be better than just in the Play-In Tournament next year.
Houston Rockets (via Los Angeles Clippers)
Hawkins time in Houston may not be over. With how the UConn guard has raised his draft stock over the course of the NCAA Tournament, there’s a good chance that the Rockets would have an opportunity to select the Maryland native with the Los Angeles Clippers’ pick and it may be a perfect match. Houston is currently struggling with guard depth and Hawkins could not only fill that gap, but also provide some much needed offensive firepower. To top it all off, they shot the worst mark from three in the league at 32.7% and adding a big time shooter like Hawkins would certainly be a big help. The one thing that Houston would need to do if they were to select Hawkins would be to either sign or trade for a veteran shooting guard to help mentor him as his career develops in the NBA. Other than that, the fit is certainly there for the NCAA champion.
Most draft experts have Jordan Hawkins being taken mid-first round; However, Mark Cuban’s squad will likely have the 10th pick and they need to reach and take the 6-foot-5-inch baller. Hawkins is the best fit for the Mavericks, who missed the Play-In tournament by two games. The Mavericks, at moments, cannot get any scoring done without Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic shooting the ball; they need another big time scorer. In the NCAA tournament, Hawkins proved to be a lethal shooter, and lived up to the clutch moments including a three point dagger with five minutes in regulation to essentially seal the Huskies fifth national title over SDSU. Dallas needs players to space the floor around Irving and Doncic and that is exactly what he will do in the Lone Star State. If Dallas takes Hawkins, he will get many wide-open looks. Hawkins is the best shooter in this draft class and will make an immediate impact on the Maverick offense which is ranked in the middle of the Association in points per game.
ESPN ranks Jordan Hawkins as the No. 13 player on their draft board, and even though we do not know the order just yet, the Orlando Magic would have the biggest need for a shooting guard around that spot. The Magic finished the season better than five teams in the Association at 34-48, but will most likely receive this conditional draft pick from the Chicago Bulls because of the 2021 Nikola Vucevic trade. On an Orlando team featuring Markelle Fultz and Jalen Suggs at the point, the Magic have Gary Harris as their shooting guard, with Cole Anthony backing him up. Harris and Anthony are free agents after next season, but having Hawkins spend his rookie year on the bench behind both shooting guards would do wonders for Orlando and their long-term goals. The Magic are a team on the rise, especially with Paolo Banchero most likely winning Rookie of the Year, and having Hawkins play significant bench minutes now might be the missing piece that makes them a playoff team next season and beyond.