Greetings, everyone! It is one of the most exciting days of the year for any NBA fan, and the Atlanta Hawks have a prominent role during the night’s festivities. With four picks to play with, including two first-rounders, the Hawks have the ability to impact the draft in ways that most teams can’t, and as a result, anticipation is extremely high to see what transpires. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what’s to come with some of the key issues facing the decision makers on Thursday night.
Draft Day Details
- When? – 7:00 PM ET
- TV? – ESPN
- Hawks (Current) Selections – #17 and #18 in the First Round; #47 and #50 in the Second Round
The Hawks are in an incredibly unique position when it comes to flexibility in this year’s draft. The aforementioned four picks make things interesting all by themselves, but when you throw in the fact that the Hawks have $30 million in cap space, and less than a handful of players under contract (paging Al Horford, Lou Williams, and John Jenkins), things get weird, in a good way.
For instance, the Hawks could make a draft-day trade that takes on one of the big money players on trade block in the league. While that guy isn’t top of mind to most people (myself included), it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Danny Ferry engaging in high-level trade talks. We covered the possibility of a simple trade-up in the draft order earlier in the week, but it would be foolish to think that it was the only trade possibility for the Hawks.
Lastly, the Hawks cap situation lends itself to taking an international player and “stashing” them away. For the uninitiated, this basically would mean the Hawks claiming the “rights” to a player who is currently playing overseas, leaving them there to save their cap hold, and basically letting that player develop under someone else’s tutelage (and dime). This isn’t a traditional “Hawks” move, especially in the 1st round, but with the Ferry/Budenholzer regime having Spurs ties, it is an incredibly “Spurs” thing to do.
Immediate Impact vs. Upside
This one is riveting for me. With the previously discussed roster construction (or lack thereof) and the fact that the Hawks have a head coach that no one knows a ton about, I have no idea where Danny Ferry is leaning. Does he want guys that can help right away in 2013-2014 with one or both of the first-round picks? Will he use the “stash” option? How about a guy like Archie Goodwin, the 18-year-old from Kentucky, as a non-Euro “project” for the future?
For me, I think the Hawks need to come up with a legitimate NBA player for next year at some point in tonight’s draft. The roster will itself out once free agency hits on July 1st, but it would be hard to stomach for the Hawks fan base to see a four-player draft emerge with no rookie impact. Obviously, the trade route (and the subsequent selection of Trey Burke or Victor Oladipo) would kill two birds with one stone, but if that doesn’t happen, there are guys in the 17/18 range that I believe could step in and contribute (in some way) from day one.
“Fit” vs. Best Available
This is an ongoing argument in draft circles everywhere, but it’s especially poignant for the Hawks this year. With a full roster of established players, there is a real argument for drafting a player based on “fit” over taking the best player available. However, with a roster as sparse as the Hawks’ current one, I believe it is a purely a situation where Danny Ferry should grab the best available player at each pick.
Yes, Al Horford and Lou Williams are incredibly set in their roles. However, that certainly shouldn’t discourage Ferry from selecting a hybrid forward/center like Kelly Olynyk, or a shooting guard like Jamaal Franklin in the first round. It is an incredibly positive thing for Atlanta that their best (read: only) players are incredibly versatile, but that’s what Horford and Williams are.
It is important to note that my prediction for what happens on draft night isn’t the same as what I would desire. First of all, I desperately want the Hawks to move heaven and earth to climb into the top 5 to select Victor Oladipo. I believe he’s the best player in the draft, and if he could be had by some combination of #17, #18, and/or John Jenkins, I would pull the trigger on that deal in a heartbeat. If the Hawks stay put? I would take Jamaal Franklin and Kelly Olynyk if both were available, and following that, I would go with Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad, and Giannis Adeokoubo (if they could convince him to stay overseas) in that order.
As for my actual prediction, I believe the Hawks will try to move up in the draft, but they will fall short, and end up making both of their selections. I would imagine that one of them will be an international player (either Adetokoubo or Rudy Gobert?), and the other will be either Jamaal Franklin or Shabazz Muhammad, provided one of them is available. Obviously, it is difficult to make firm projections with picks this far down, but the Hawks have showed serious interest in both Franklin and Muhammad, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them draft a wing with the roster lacking that type of player.
At any rate, it’s going to be an extremely entertaining night, and frankly, a night that could help to shape the Budenholzer/Ferry era for years to come. Stay tuned for up-to-the-minute analysis as things transpire, and make ATL All Day your one-stop shop for the Atlanta Hawks.