- Radio DePaul Sports
NBA Draft Prospect Review: Jordan Hawkins
The University of Connecticut is a basketball powerhouse. Its historic women’s program
has produced WNBA legends such as Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Swin Cash, Tina Charles, Maya
Moore, and Breanna Stewart. On the men’s side, UConn has helped develop notable NBA
players including Ray Allen, Caron Butler, Andre Drummond, Rudy Gay, Richard Hamilton,
Donyell Marshall, Cliff Robinson, and Kemba Walker. Of these players, only Walker and
Hamilton have accomplished what Jordan Hawkins just accomplished: winning the NCAA
The sophomore Hawkins is a natural shooting guard, standing at 6-feet-5-inches and
195 pounds. He played and started in 37 of UConn’s 39 games this season, playing just about
30 minutes per game and logging 16.2 points per contest. A very efficient all-around player,
Hawkins was 94th in the country in offensive rating. In a league that shoots in the low-to-mid
30’s from deep, Hawkins shot 38.8% from behind the line, a credit to his silky smooth jump shot.
I always say that one indicator of “shooter’s touch” is free throw shooting, a metric in which
Hawkins was 32nd in the country.
Watching Jordan Hawkins play makes UConn fans remember the Ray Allen days. His
best skill, like Allen, is getting to his spots. A good off-ball screener like Adama Sanogo are
Hawkins’s best friend because they allow him to get to his ideal catch-and-shoot hot zones. A
skill that all proficient shooters must have in the NBA is an ability to, regardless of the angle or
range they are shooting from, have their hips and shoulders squared to the basket by the time
they go up for the shot. I cannot stress enough how good Hawkins is at executing just this.
One of UConn’s most reliable plays drawn up for Hawkins starts with a ball-handler
between the wing and the corner, who then delivers the ball to Hawkins coming off a top-of-the-
key screen. If the screen is executed, Hawkins catches the ball with his body turned towards the
ball handler, then turns his hips and shoulders to the hoop, finally getting to his high release
point and firing. Unstoppable. Oh, and if the defender gets to him in time, Hawkins also has a
strong arsenal of pump fakes, sidesteps, and stepbacks.
Another key to Hawkins’s elite shooting is his height and release point. Being 6-feet-5-
inches (Ray Allen is 6’5”; Klay Thompson is 6’6”) makes it difficult for defenders to contest, and
releasing the ball at the highest point possible increases that difficulty. No matter the amount of
contest, Hawkins’s release is unwavering, meaning he is not bothered by an approaching
defender. He also has a nice pull-up mid-range jumper (Exhibit A: the first basket of the National
Impressively, Hawkins has some speed to his game. Obviously, being a movement
shooter means he is very well conditioned (i.e. Stephen Curry), but Hawkins has the advantage
of speed for off-ball proficiency, including rim-running. His second bucket against San Diego
State in the Championship involved a fake handoff with Sanogo, a spin to get outside, a
downhill burst to create space, and an easy layup off of a Sanogo dime. Like Curry, he is not
purely in love with the long ball like some speculate.
In terms of playmaking, Hawkins is lacking. However, his role is not to drop dimes and
operate the offense, nor will it be his role in the NBA. He makes the simple pass, which is all
any team will ever need of him, as he makes up for it with his spacing and perimeter threat. It
does need to be said that he has a tendency to pick up his dribble, slowing the flow of the
offense, and he sometimes gets lost in the offense when a play falls apart. In other words, he is
not a good improviser.
Defensively, Hawkins has a long way to go. He bites on dribble moves too easily, losing
a step more often than not against sufficient ball-handlers. His help defense isn’t particularly
strong, and for what he gains in size he often loses in strength. However, just look at his Klay
Thompson-esque frame and realize that he has the potential to go a long way defensively. For a
shooter, he is a good defensive rebounder, and strength training should do him a lot of good in
the big leagues.
Hawkins will not be drafted higher than eight in the draft because of his build. Teams
with top seven picks (should) draft potential game-changers. They’re typically well-rounded guys
who a struggling team can rally around. Steph Curry himself was the seventh pick, largely
because of his size, limited defensive tangibles, and emphasis on shooting rather than creating.
The NBA has progressed since then, which makes me optimistic about Hawkins’s draft
placement. I mean, a guy with Ray Allen potential (yes, I said it) should probably be picked in
the top 10.
Hawkins will likely start in a similar role to 2022-23 Hawks rookie AJ Griffin. His team will
likely focus on physical development so that Hawkins can grow stronger, and I doubt he will get
many looks beyond what he’s used to: open threes and drawn-up off-ball actions. That being
said, once his body is developed (which is somewhat dependent on a lack of injuries), his name
should be called more, and coaches will be more comfortable with him defensively. As long as
he isn’t a clearly negative defender, he should be considered a high-end 3-and-D player, which
is extremely valued in the NBA.
Hawkins could be one of those guys to land a Duncan Robinson-like second contract. At
that point, it’s up to him to morph his game and add to his arsenal in order to avoid being
predictable like Robinson and Davis Bertans, for example. I don’t think this will be a problem,
but shooters are sometimes figured out and then locked down by competition. Duncan
Robinson was a secret weapon until everyone figured out exactly what he would do on every
possession. I know teams are thinking about this right now, but Hawkins just proved himself to
be a perfect piece on a championship team that didn’t just beat their competition, they
steamrolled their competition. Jordan Hawkins should be picked between 8 and 12, and expect
him to keep UConn’s NBA legacy going strong.