The 2017 NBA Draft will wrap up with the Atlanta Hawks making the 60th and final selection of the night, hoping an overlooked prospect becomes a valuable addition to their roster.
The Atlanta Hawks are looking for the 2017 edition Mr. Irrelevant, the last pick of the draft, to make an impact on the team next season.
Pick No. 60, usually is reserved for international prospects that organizations are hoping can make an impact sometime down the road, rarely pans out, but as Celtics All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas has proven, it can happen.
Thomas was taken by the Sacramento Kings with the final selection of the 2011 NBA Draft, but blossomed into a star. This season, Thomas ranked third in the league in scoring, averaging 28.9 points per game.
Over the past 10 years, only four players selected 60th overall have even logged a single minute in the NBA, with Thomas accounting for 441 of the 757 total games played by the group.
Since the last pick of Thursday’s draft will be the third of the night for Atlanta, barring any trades, there is little risk to taking anyone — either a college senior or an 18-year-old from thousands of miles away.
Atlanta under new general manager Travis Schlenk has already conducted several workouts with players at all positions and is prepared to take the most talented prospect when selecting 19th, 31st and 60th.
Numerous players, including Marc Gasol, Draymond Green and Hawks All-Star forward Paul Millsap, an unrestricted free agent next month, have become All-Stars after being selected in the second round.
The Hawks are hoping the player that slips to them with the final pick can develop into a rotation player in the coming years.
5. L.J. Peak, SG, Georgetown
2016-17 statistics: 16.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.5 APG
After a disappointing season for Georgetown, resulting in Patrick Ewing being tabbed to replace John Thompson following consecutive losing campaigns, junior guard L.J. Peak opted to bypass his final collegiate season and declared for the NBA.
Peak could be available at the tail end of the draft after he failed to secure a place on any of the Big East All-Conference teams, or even receive an invitation to participate at the NBA Draft Combine.
While Peak wasn’t able to receive an additional chance to showcase his array of skills in front of NBA executives, his 6’9″ reach, five additional inches than his height, will be extremely useful as a perimeter defender at the next level.
During his two seasons at Georgetown, Peak managed to pile up 16.2 points per game on just 10.9 shot attempts.
HIs offensive efficiency, as he shot 48 percent from the field and posted a true shooting percentage of 60.2 percent, could be enough to garner some playing time in the NBA next year.
As with any late second round prospects, there is a glaring weakness in his game, as Peak shot just 32.7 percent from three-point range, an area he will have to improve if he hopes to latch on with any organization.
4. V.J. Beachem, SF, Notre Dame
2016-17 statistics: 14.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.1 BPG
Acquiring players capable of guarding multiple positions while stretching out opposing defenses is a priority for every team.
With very few viable small forward options capable of thriving in both roles immediately, the Atlanta Hawks could focus on Notre Dame’s V.J. Beachem to close out the 2017 NBA Draft.
During his senior season, Beachem knocked down 2.4 shots from beyond the arc at a 36.1 percent clip.
On a team with four players averaging more than 10 shots per game, Beachem still managed to pour in 20 or more points on 10 occasions, including a standout performance against Syracuse that saw him total 30 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
The outing was highlighted by 6-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc, a feat he accomplished three times during the season.
After struggling during the Fighting Irish’s two games at the NCCA Tournament, Beachem may be available toward the end of the draft.
If Beachem is able to improve on his consistency shooting the ball, as he shot below 30 percent from the field nine times and above 50 percent eight times last season, he could be a steal.
The 22-year-old can catch fire from long range at any time, as evidenced by his seven conversions from beyond the arc against NC State, but will have to prove he can contribute on a nightly basis to warrant a roster spot.
3. Vlatko Cancar, SF, Slovenia
2016-17 statistics: 8.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.6 APG
In 21 games for Mega Leks, a Serbian club with a reputation for developing promising players, Cancar posted 40.7 percent shooting from three-point range, as he knocked down 22-of-54 attempts from beyond the arc.
Cancar tied for the second-worst vertical jump, along with Caleb Swanigan and Isaiah Hartenstein as he measured at just 29 inches, but his intrigue as a draft prospect isn’t centered around his leaping ability.
Capable of playing both forward positions, Cancar is an intriguing prospect because of his ability to create his own shots off the dribble, employing an exceptional shot fake to generate separation from his opponents.
His quick release and excellent precision from all over the perimeter could carve out a spot in the NBA for the 20-year-old.
Over the past few years, Cancar has added muscle to his frame, but at 210 pounds, he can be pushed around by larger opponents.
The 6’8″ frame, along with a fluid long range shot, makes Cancar a potential draft-and-stash prospect for the Atlanta Hawks with the final selection of the 2017 NBA Draft, as the team may attempt to avoid adding salary to the roster.
2. Edmond Sumner, SG/PG, Xavier
2016-17 statistics: 14.3 PPG, 4.8 APG, 4.2 RPG
The Atlanta Hawks could land a viable option at either backcourt position to close out the 2017 NBA Draft.
Perpetual injury problems robbed Edmond Sumner throughout his college career, as knee tendinitis limited him to just six games during his freshman year, while a torn ACL ended his sophomore season after just 17 games.
During his limited time on the court, Sumner managed to impress throughout the year, with perhaps his most impressive outing coming during a victory over Georgetown.
Sumner continually attacked the basket, earning 17 trips to the free throw line, as part of a 28-point, eight-rebound, six-assist effort.
The 6’6″ guard managed to post several other impressive stat lines throughout the year.
The Hawks could use a backup point guard, with Jose Calderon slated to become an unrestricted free agent next month and Malcom Delaney, an unproven NBA player, being the only other backup available to Dennis Schroder.
1. Wesley Iwundu, SG, Kansas State
2016-17 statistics: 13 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.5 APG
The Atlanta Hawks were one of numerous teams to bring in Wesley Iwundu for a pre-draft workout this summer.
When the 6’7″ guard met with the Hawks last week, it was the 12th different organization he had met, with another six teams already slated to bring him in for workouts.
Mock drafts have Iwundu projected to be taken throughout the draft, as NBADraft.net has Orlando selecting him 25th overall, while DraftExpress believes Utah will take him him 55th.
Since the second round is wildly unpredictable, with international prospects adding to the uncertainty, players like Iwundu have a tendency to slip, simply because of the time he spent in college.
After four seasons at Kansas State, the 22-year-old could be bypassed in the draft for candidates with more upside.
If Iwundu manages to slip five spots past Utah in the second round, Atlanta would gladly add him to the roster before the conclusion of the 2017 NBA Draft.