Future Hawks Prospects to Watch: Second Edition (Cam Oliver)


Dwight Howard finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images

Since our last draft update, the Atlanta Hawks are surging, currently standing at 19-16, which is 5th in the Eastern Conference and (1.5) games out of third place, currently held by the Boston Celtics. In my last mock, I had the Hawks drafting Terrance Ferguson; however, their biggest need during the summer has shifted . The Hawks are on a four game winning streak and have won 9 of their last 13 games. With the rumors of the Hawks possibly shopping All Star Power Forward Paul Millsap due to their concerns of losing him in Free Agency, we’ve moved our stance in the team needs department. In order for the Hawks to contend in the future without Millsap, the power forward position will have to be addressed immediately. 

With the acquisition of Dwight Howard during the off-season, the Hawks rebounding numbers have increased exponentially. Howard’s presence inside has caused havoc in the paint for opponents throughout the season putting up double digit rebounds on a nightly basis. He’s currently averaging 13 rebounds per game to lead the team and currently ranks in the top five of the NBA in that respective category (4th-13.1 Per Game)

As we continue, Paul Millsap’s replacement have a big position to fill; he’s been the unquestionable leader for the Hawks since he arrived in Atlanta. Since Millsap’s signing in 2013, Coach Bud’s system allowed the veteran to put up career high numbers and became a perennial All-Star with his stellar play. Arguably the most underrated power forward in the NBA, Millsap has averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds per game since joining the Hawks four years ago. His numbers don’t reveal how much of an impact he’s been to the city of Atlanta and this franchise. Easily a crowd favorite and a great locker room guy as far as chemistry is concerned. 

Losing him could prove to be a very unpopular move with Hawks fans, but this is a business and if the Hawks feel that he’ll depart, they should be rewarded for the outstanding years of service in a Hawks uniform. Although there are a bevy of trade scenarios that could catapult the Hawks to an instant contender in the near future, the safe approach would be to acquire your talent in the NBA Draft.

The next first round pick for the Atlanta Hawks should be 6’8, 225 pound Nevada Power Forward Cam Oliver. There’s no other way to describe Cam Oliver than in one term “beast”.  On the court, Oliver should not be taken lightly. Oliver has a strong frame and the physical tools to make up for any shortcomings he has in terms of height at 6’8. What stands out most about Oliver is his dynamic athletic ability. He is an explosive leaper, who doesn’t need much time or space to load up, as evidenced by some impressive above the rim finishes he had on tip dunks and in traffic

Oliver is a 20-year-old who played his high school ball at Grand Union in Sacramento, California before selecting Nevada to continue on the collegiate level. During his freshman year at Nevada, Oliver led his team to the CBI title and earned the Mountain West Freshman of the Year award. Shortly after the season, he briefly put his name in the NBA draft; However, after thinking about his decision , Oliver chose to return to Nevada for his sophomore campaign. Currently in the 2016-17 season, he’s averaging (15) Points per game and (7) Rebounds per contest. 

The prospect displays the ability to shoot at a high percentage; shooting (55%) from the field and (44%) from the three-point line. In my opinion, his game is very similar to two current players, a combination of Paul Millsap and Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green. The overall common knock on all three players is their lack of size. Oliver stands at 6’8 and with the change of landscape across the league the last few years; he essentially would fit right in today’s NBA. 

Oliver has a strong frame and the physical tools to overcome what most scouts call a negative in reference to his lack of size. He’s comfortable shooting the ball from anywhere on the court with a fluid motion, however, his best attribute would be his athleticism. He can throw it down with the best of them in this year’s draft class because of his ++ explosiveness and leaping ability. Another way that his game resembles Millsap and Green is his inside presence, Oliver has some nice post moves and he has the ability to take guys off the dribble with his quick feet and patented spin moves. One of the intriguing thing for Hawks fans to watch is Oliver’s defensive presence; the impact he has on the defensive side of the ball is second to none. He led his conference in blocks last season and his team in blocks and steals, remind you of anyone who played for Louisiana Tech years ago, and slipped into the second round? Yes, our own Paul Millsap and that’s a level of play Cam Oliver has the potential to reach. 

If Oliver continues to improve and the Hawks continue to win, it may be difficult for the Hawks to draft him as his draft stock soars. If not, the Hawks are getting a guy with the potential to do great things in this league. As all players, Oliver does have a few weaknesses in his game that he needs to improve on. With his lack of size, he possesses matchup problems on defense against bigger opponents, but his strength and athletic ability makes up for what he might give up in the height department. In terms of what Atlanta likes to do, he will need to continue to develop his offensive shot; however, he’s shooting 15% points better than last season from the three-point line. The biggest issue that Oliver will need to improve is his style of play, sometimes he’ll just use his overall athletic ability for stretches instead of just performing to his attributes. Oliver struggles against bigger players trying to do so much to compensate for height disadvantage. However, he’s the prototypical fit and the Hawks should consider giving him an opportunity in the future. He will definitely be a solid player in the NBA for years to come and if you missed out on Draymond Green or Paul Millsap, the next best thing is here and waiting to become a star.

By: Michael R. Thomas II

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