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2023 NBA Draft: Could Troy Weaver jump back in to the lottery for UConn’s Jordan Hawkins?

UConn’s Jordan Hawkins made a name for himself in the NCAA Tournament as a legitimate scorer with high-level NBA potential. The path for him to end up as a Piston is less clear.

NCAA Basketball: UConn Championship Parade
UConn’s Jordan Hawkins speaks at Huskies championship parade
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

As the NBA Draft Lottery waits to unfold, team’s offseason and draft boards continue to evolve. The Detroit Pistons are guaranteed a top-five pick thanks to their league-worst 17-65 record. While having the ability to bring a top-tier prospect into the fold, Troy Weaver could be holding some tricks to get back in the lottery to get a player high on his draft board.

No other player in the 2023 draft class would fill Detroit’s 3-point shooting need better than UConn sophomore guard Jordan Hawkins.

A Highly Efficient Scorer

Hawkins shot 38.8% from deep as a sophomore, taking a leap from 33.3% as a freshman. The increased efficiency came at a much greater volume, taking over four more 3-point attempts per game this past season coming into a full-time starting role for the Huskies.

This past season, 63.1% of field goal attempts came from behind the arc, adding certainty that Hawkins will focus on his 3-point stroke at the next level.

He’s able to score in both catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble scenarios, doing what he can to find open space making defenders pay. Seeing less defensive attention at the professional level will help Hawkins take advantage of clean looks in the NBA.

A high efficiency shooter at the line, Hawkins connected on 88.7% of free-throw attempts while shooting close to four per game this season. This adds confidence that he will be able to take advantage of clean looks from the field as a pro.

As a scorer, Hawkins should work to focus on his shooting confidence when being contested by stronger defenders. In college, he has been comfortable with taking the open look. When contested, he’s used to kicking it to the open man, to then try and create his own space off-the-ball.

His wiggle when moving off-ball is second to none. If he’s able to continue confusing defenders when creating space, the open looks will come at any level.

Room to Grow as a Facilitator

Hawkins isn’t going to come in and run any team’s offense. As a guard, he will likely work on his playmaking ability at the next level. As a sophomore, he averaged 1.3 assists per game, primarily focusing as a scorer for UConn’s offense.

He is a solid finisher at the rim, but currently lacks a strong ability to make plays or score in different ways when driving to the hoop.

As someone who won’t serve as a true point guard, this isn’t a huge concern. But, any organization will like to see Hawkins grow this aspect of his game to then reap additional rewards with finding open space for his teammates to present them with additional scoring opportunities.

Growth was made as a passer with UConn as he grew into a larger role. He has shown flashes at numerous points with crafty dishes throughout his collegiate career.

Defense, Defense, Defense

Detroit wants to bring in multi-dimensional players. The selling point for Hawkins, of course, is his shooting ability. To create a larger role for himself in the NBA, he’ll need to impact the game on both ends of the floor.

As a defender, he’s solid both on and off-the-ball. His high basketball IQ and feel for the game results in a competent defender. Anticipating ball screens often allows him to navigate and rotate onto the proper assignment, providing defensive help when needed.

Our very own Bryce Simon of Motor City Hoops pointed to the defensive end as an area for growth with Hawkins when breaking down the prospect for Sports Illustrated’s Draft Digest, “(Hawkins) can stand to put on some weight/strength that will allow him to be more versatile defensively and at times he can ‘look’ a tad unengaged on that end of the court. With that said, when he is engaged and in a stance he can hold his own on the ball and is a very good off ball defender with his IQ and ability to navigate screens.”

Wherever he lands on draft night, Hawkins will look to put the work in to improve as a defender, which can lead to a greater minute volume as a young rotation player.

How does Jordan Hawkins fit with the Detroit Pistons?

The fit is clear. Hawkins should come in to the league as a very capable shooter from three and floor spacer on day one.

Is he a day one starter in a situation similar to Detroit? I’m not so sure. Bojan Bogdanovic will be back, barring movement via a potential trade. Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, along with any backcourt additions that may arise, would allow Hawkins to adjust to the professional game off the bench.

He is not a primary ball handler, which would help him in Detroit with rostered guards who will run the offense.

Hawkins will be 21-years old on draft night, making him less of a raw prospect coming into the league compared to others in this class.

In terms of a path to becoming a Piston, it’s a bit blurry.

With a floor of pick No. 5, Hawkins likely won’t get a look, even if Detroit does find themselves at that floor.

The most likely avenue to becoming a Piston would be via trade. We have seen Weaver be creative in recent years to jump back into the late lottery or mid-first round to get his guy, adding Jalen Duren this past season, as well as Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey in the 2020 draft.

Using upcoming cap space to gain an additional draft pick would be a realistic play to add a player like Hawkins in the upcoming draft. Targeting a team toward the end of the lottery or mid-first that is looking to alleviate some cap room is the chip that the Pistons can hold in garnering a worthy suitor’s first-round pick.

For more on Hawkins, check out Bryce Simon of Motor City Hoops’ prospect breakdown for Sports Illustrated’s Draft Digest.