While the 2024 NBA Draft is months away, the 2023-24 NCAA season is in full swing, and NBA scouts are leaving no stone unturned. This includes keeping an eye on international prospects, as players from abroad have become increasingly successful in the league. As a team with two picks in the first round of the upcoming draft, the Atlanta Hawks’ scouts are certainly among them. This is particularly true as the Hawks continue to tinker with their rotation, trying to find the right pieces that fit.

That said, here are five prospects that Atlanta should keep an eye on ahead of Jun. 27.

5 Early 2024 NBA Draft Targets for the Hawks

1. Zaccharie Risacher, JL Bourg

JL Bourg forward Zaccharie Risacher is one of the top prospects in the 2024 NBA Draft and a potential top-five selection, meaning to acquire him, the Hawks would have to use their top pick. Nonetheless, when watching Risacher’s quick-twitch athleticism, hair-trigger shooting release, and instinctual play on offense, it’s easy to understand why Atlanta should take a shot on the French forward. This is especially because Risacher is not only an impactful weakside shot-blocker but a potential weapon for their notoriously porous transition defense.

The 18-year-old is averaging 17.2 points, 1.8 steals, and 0.5 blocks per 36 minutes while shooting 48.8% from the field and 39.7% from three-point range. While it’s difficult to project his production at the NBA level, his upside and fit within the rotation make him an intriguing option for Atlanta.

2. Kyle Filipowski, Duke

Assessing the weak links on the Hawks’ roster goes beyond finding the right backcourt pairing. One has to consider whether either Clint Capela or Onyeka Okongwu is fit to be their starting center.

In the case of Capela, though he started the season off strong, his recent effort on the defensive end has left much to be desired. Even more, in fact, than his offensive limitations as a traditional rim-running center. As a 10-year NBA veteran who’s logged over 15,000 minutes in his NBA career, perhaps the miles are catching up to him. Nonetheless, whatever the reason, his presence inside as of late has been forgettable. In the case of Okongwu, the athleticism that makes him an intriguing defensive weapon is undermined by his size at six-foot-eight.

Duke center Kyle Filipowski would enter the rotation as the antithesis of both.

At seven feet and 230 pounds, the skilled big man is an inside-out scorer who can create scoring opportunities for teammates and turn away shots as well. Now in his sophomore season with the Blue Devils, the 2023 ACC Rookie of the Year is averaging 18.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 39.7% from three-point range.

3. Kel’el Ware, Indiana

Like Duke center Filipowski, Indiana center Kel’el Ware isn’t your traditional center. A bit slighter than Filipowski at seven feet and 210 pounds, the athletic Arkansas native is averaging 14.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game under former NBA head coach Mike Woodson. Perhaps most notably, Ware is shooting 41.7 percent from deep, showing an ability to stretch the floor despite the bulk of his offense coming around the rim.

Filipowski is perimeter-oriented, opening up plenty of space for the Hawks’ slashers, cutters, and drivers to operate. However, though Ware has shown the ability to knock down jumpers from the short midrange to three-point range, the way he functions as a pick-and-roll weapon and in the dunker spot should make it easy for Trae Young to develop chemistry with him.

One last point of comparison: his defensive awareness in space lags slightly behind Filipowski. However, both have the length and discipline to make shots tougher for would-be sh0t-makers without fouling much.

4. Tidjane Salaun, Cholet Basket

French forward Tidjane Salaun of Cholet Basket is one of the most notable international prospects that should be available in the late lottery or mid-first round. A gifted off-ball threat knocking down 34.8% of his three-point attempts this season, Salaun’s skillset as a three-point specialist could keep the Hawks in close games as their current frontcourt lacks efficiency from outside.

Salaun wouldn’t arrive in Atlanta to take anybody’s spot in the rotation so much as to complement it. The 18-year-old is averaging 13.8 points and 2.1 steals per 36 minutes.

5. Wooga Poplar, Miami

With all the talk about finding the best backcourt mate for All-Star point guard Young, the Hawks would be wise to pursue a shooting guard. If they take such an approach, the University of Miami’s Wooga Poplar may appeal to them as a 3-and-D wing who could either start or come off the bench and make an impact.

At six-foot-five and 195 pounds, Poplar’s length and athleticism translate to both ends. Making a name for himself during the 2023 NCAA Tournament as he helped the Hurricanes reach the Final Four, his breakout season came in 2022-23 as he shot 37.5% from deep. However, the junior has returned with an even stronger performance in 2023-24. Shooting a blistering 46.2 percent from three, Poplar is also averaging 14.7 points per game.

As he continues to make his impact felt on both sides of the ball in South Beach, the Hawks should hope that his talent translates a little further up the East Coast and keep him on their radar. Poplar might become a popular pick in Atlanta with his range, quick release, and efficiency.

Bonus: Bronny James, USC

Why not have some fun?

Should USC wing Bronny James declare for the 2024 NBA Draft, there will be no shortage of interest in the 19-year-old. This isn’t because James has been excelling early in the 2023-24 season, as he’s averaging just 5.9 points per game on 38.1% shooting from the field and 25.0% shooting from three-point range after 11 games. To that point, James could just be going through a minor rough patch, as he shot a respectable 46.2% from the field (33.3% from 3) in December over the course of five games.

To that point, James has had a professional approach at the collegiate level. Constantly trying to make the right play, he takes his shots within the natural flow of the offense and does well setting up teammates. Furthermore, while his shot isn’t dropping, his defense has been strong. As a prospect regarded as a 3-and-D specialist, James may need patience more than anything.

That said, LeBron James can reach free agency this offseason if he declines his player option for the 2024-25 season. Drafting his eldest son could serve the ultimate purpose of helping lure the face of the league to Atlanta. With LeBron still playing at an All-Star level despite his advanced age, acquiring a player with his resume could be what the Hawks need to attain championship-contender status.

Akash Mahi, a dedicated enthusiast of the game, is a recognized expert in the domain of tennis balls. With a keen understanding of materials and aerodynamics, he has contributed to the evolution of tennis ball design, enhancing playability and performance. Mahi's expertise continues to impact both casual players and professionals alike.