As we wind down from the insanity that was the 2013 NBA Draft, it’s time to “grade” the work of Danny Ferry and company. The Hawks entered the night with four picks (#17, #18, #47, and #50), and ended up making exactly one of those picks for themselves. That should tell you all that you need to know, so without further ado, let’s go pick-by-pick with an evaluator’s eye.
If you haven’t noticed already, the Hawks moved up from their stated slot in order to grab “their guy” in Nogueira. The Hawks were forced to take back the guaranteed 1st-round contract of Jared Cunningham (a 6’4 guard from Oregon State), but in the process, the team went up to get Nogueira while also adding the #44 pick in the draft (we’ll come back to this).
Among the big men that were slated to go in this area, Nogueira is unquestionably the most talented… but he’s also the furthest away from contributing at the NBA level. With guys like Gorgui Dieng, Jeff Withey, and the like still on the board, Nogueira is a “swing for the fences” move, and I’m frankly okay with that strategy. In the future, the Hawks desperately need a rim-protecting big who can run the floor to complement the pick-and-pop, defensively efficient game of Al Horford, and Nogueira is the perfect fit if everything comes together.
Here’s what Danny Ferry had to say (quoted from a Hawks media release):
Lucas has a tremendous level of talent and charisma. He can do things with his length, athletically, protecting the rim and finishing around the rim. He has a good understanding of the game and is a good teammate.
While that is admittedly a canned response from Ferry (he’s a pro at that), it does reveal what the team was looking for with the pick. Chad Ford didn’t think that highly of the selection, docking the Hawks for taking the raw big, and discounting the immediateness of his NBA impact, but it was certainly a “Spurs” pick. There was some “poor man’s Nerlens Noel” buzz throughout the night on Nogueira, and if he can change the game in that way on the defensive end at some point, I’m all kinds of ready for the Nogueira era.
Rajon Rondo is the comparison most often used to describe Schroeder and, to be honest, that is pretty encouraging. Schroeder is an athlete on the level of Rondo, and with his freakish length (6-foot-8 wingspan) combined with lightning quickness, I can certainly see the similarities.
In a post-draft interview, new head coach Mike Budenholzer referred to his preference to “focus on defense”, and touted Schroeder’s ability on that end of the court with his length, speed, and accumen. As far as the GM is concerned, Ferry referred to Schroeder as “tenacious and athletic”, while also referring to him as a “two-way player” in the same vein as his new head coach.
With my penchant for defense, quotes like these make me drool, but what about offense? Well, Schroeder has the skills to translate on that end as well, but it may not be as immediate. At 19 years old, he’s already been playing professionally for four seasons, but there’s a steep learning curve for point guards, and he may need some seasoning. He uses his speed effectively on the offensive side and he’s a high-level ball handler, but there have basketball IQ concerns (never a good thing for a PG) and his jump shot has lagged behind other parts of his game at times.
The most encouraging thing with this pick is that it seems to be a fantastic value. Schroeder was slated to come off of the board before this spot in many, many mock drafts, and seeing him fall in their laps had to be a thrill for the Hawks’ front-office. t It remains to be seen whether Schroeder’s arrival will have a pending impact on Jeff Teague’s free agency and/or the pursuit of a free agent point guard, but for now, it’s a really nice pick, even if he isn’t ready to start in the league (and he likely isn’t) from day one.
#44 Pick – Mike Muscala, C/PF Bucknell
In the midst of a whirlwind second round that saw the Hawks “move out” of the 47th and 50th selections for future considerations, the prize was Mike Muscala, a four-year big man from the Patriot League.
On the surface, people must be thinking “big, white stiff!” with Muscala, but I couldn’t disagree more. I was on him before the draft as a potential target for the Hawks, and I’ve been incredibly high on Muscala in the weeks leading up to the draft as a potential steal. All reports were that Muscala put on an absolute show in pre-draft workouts, but not quite in the “freak athlete” kind of way that the Hawks’ first two selections did.
What I mean by that is that Muscala is a guy who is always in the right place at the right time, and he is an incredibly skilled player despite his athletic limitations. Danny Ferry notably referred to him as “a complete player” last night, and that is very true, as he has a fully formed post game, can score inside and out, and had some of the best efficiency numbers of any college player last season.
Obviously, there are limitations and/or drawbacks, as he is a second round pick after all, and Muscala isn’t quite a high-end athlete. Defensively, he’ll never be a game-changer, but for the investment, it really won’t matter. Muscala is the polar opposite of the first two picks in that, at nearly 22 years old, he’s probably closer to “ready” than most prospects, while his ceiling is lower. Either way, I absolutely loved the pick, and I thought Muscala could’ve snuck into the late first round without it being a reach.
Overall, it was a positive night for the new regime. The overall grades were all over the place for this group, ranging from a “C” by Chad Ford, a “B+” from the guys at Peachtree Hoops, and even an “A” from USA Today, but in general, no one bombed on the Hawks selections, and that’s frankly a change from the norm for the franchise.
It was clear that the Ferry/Budenholzer duo had a plan for the draft (get more athletic, focus on defense, etc.), and they seemed ultra-content with what took place. That gives me encouragement, and the fact that it absolutely followed the much-discussed “Spurs” model should inspire confidence in the fan base.
The draft wasn’t without its negatives (at least for me), as I would have loved to see the team hold on to the 50th pick to keep “my guy” in James Ennis, and the fact that Jamaal Franklin (a favorite of this site and many others) fell to #41 without Danny Ferry moving up was semi-disappointing. However, neither of these issues is a deal-breaker by any stretch, and when you get through a draft with 3 passing grades in 3 selections, things are looking up.
Overall Grade: A-