Late in the second round of the draft where risks are more likely to be taken, the Atlanta Hawks did just that. With the No. 50 and No. 59 picks in this year’s draft, last year’s Eastern Conference regular season winners chose Marcus Eriksson with the former, who is currently under contract for FC Barcelona in Spain.
Eriksson, who will turn 22 in December, will play at least one more year overseas, making this pick a logical choice for the systematic Hawks who have an already full roster for the upcoming season. The Swedish guard has been playing professionally since he was 16 years old, making his 2010 debut for Catalan club Bàsquet Manresa in Liga ACB before being transferred to his current squad. However five minutes into his debut match with FC Barcelona, Eriksson tore his ACL and meniscus causing him to miss the entire 2014-2015 season.
Coming into the draft, some considered Eriksson as a top-10 international prospect for his 1993 class. At -7 with a solid -9 wingspan, the 2014 All-ACB Young Players Team pick possesses great size for the shooting guard position. His most valuable asset to the Hawks lies in his ability to shoot the basketball. Eriksson is already a sharp shooter that has the ability to stroke it from behind the NBA 3-Point line in a consistent manner. His shooting mechanics are as fundamental as they come, as it is effortless, smooth and most importantly, quick. During his time overseas, NBA scouts and draft experts were impressed with his strong spot-up jump shot, and were surprised by his improving pull up when defenses closed out quickly enough. Recently, there have been reports of an improved ability to get into the lane and finish over big men with a soft floater.
Graphic via euroleague
Though he’s currently 21 years old, at he’s significantly weaker than nearly all prospects coming into the league this year. Eriksson’s current skinny frame is nowhere close to NBA ready, making the Hawks’ decision to keep him in Europe for at least another year more reasonable. He is a decent athlete, although lacks explosiveness, which at the NBA level put him at about average. He will almost certainly be a complimentary player his entire basketball career, as he never creates his own shots and relies on open jumpers, screens and cuts to get his points. Defensively, he struggles against any sort of athleticism and although scouts are optimistic that he has the potential to eventually hold his own on that side of the ball, right now he is a complete liability.
The systematic Atlanta Hawks added a solid prospect to their influx of young talent and the extra year or two abroad will only serve to benefit both parties in the long run. The potential for the Swedish shooting guard to play on the end on the bench is there, as shooters are valued very highly by NBA GMs and coaches alike.
Graphic via nba