2013 NBA Draft: Interview With Peachtree Hoops Writer, Jason Walker


May 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer takes questions from the media after being introduced during a press conference at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Here is our second Q & A with a writer from the wonderful site, Peachtree Hoops. Today, we are getting some thoughts from their site manager, Jason Walker. He was kind enough to answer the questions we asked Kris Willis, as well as a couple more.

Make sure you guys check out the site and also follow Jason on Twitter for all kinds of expert Hawks talk and analysis.

Let’s jump right into the Q & A:

With so few players under contract for the Atlanta Hawks, what is the biggest need for them right now, in your opinion? Is this a need that can be filled easily in the draft or are they going to have to address that in free agency?

They want more defensive rebounding, more wing defense, more corner threes if they are going to emulate what we’ve seen from the Spurs over the last 600 years.

They can address some of this through the offseason channels this year. While there are a shortage of All-Star level talent available to the Hawks in the middle of the first round, there are a number of serviceable rotational players that can satisfy these characteristics needed.

And, depending on what they do in the draft, we can look to free agency to fulfill the other as they can chase players like Andre Iguodala, Al Jefferson, Tiago Splitter and others.

Over at SB Nation you guys have done several Mock Drafts, with a few of them showing Mason Plumlee falling to the Hawks. As a UNC student, this is unacceptable. Please tell me this isn’t actually going to happen (if there is a chance it does, what are the pros and cons of the Duke alum?)

Ha-ha! Well, while I don’t think he would be a first choice for a big off the board at 17/18, Plumlee does fulfull some of those traits listed above. He is an energetic big who can run the floor, has good hands, rebounds and finishes above the cup.

I prefer Gorgui Dieng, talent-wise, over Plumlee, but that may not be an option come draft night.

I have asked Brad a few times about whether Horford is a better fit for the center position or the power forward position. What are your thoughts on this? In this year’s draft are there more options at the 5 or the 4? Ideally, what kind of player would you pair with Horford and which position would he play?

I’m torn because the advanced statistics at places like 82games.com show, from a positional standpoint, Horford is actually more efficient and a better defender at center. Now, that could be small sample size theater because Al doesn’t get to do that all that often, but it’s interesting data anyway.

Problem is, from watching Al since he came into the league, he does get swallowed up by the bigger centers in the league when he is on offense. He rushes a bit to make sure he’s not going to get blocked, is a little more tentative and is sometimes too passive when a player like Brook Lopez is on him.

Having a legit seven footer who can finish strong at the cup, help out defensively especially on the glass and isn’t a Jason Collins/Johan Petro like liability on the floor with him could really allow Horford to take another step in efficiency and productivity.

You have talked about the Hawks potentially drafting foreign players with one or more of their picks. Could you tell us why you think the Hawks could do this, and what it would do for the team in free agency?

Sure – Drafting a player who will not be playing in the league next year allows the drafting team to duck the cap hold that draft slot would have for that player. At the #17 pick, the cap hold will be about 1.6M dollars, so the Hawks could take a player like Giannis Adetokunbo or Sergey Karasev, stash them away overseas for a year or two, and keep that dough to chase free agents with this offseason.

They key would be to be sure they didn’t want to come over right away – the Hawks would then file a letter with the league office stating they will not be playing next season and the money/cap hold comes off the cap.

Who are your top three targets going into the Draft? How much faith do you have in the organization after multiple failed selections in the past?

I have complete faith in the new regime – they have already taken so much more thought into building an organization, top to bottom, than I could have hoped for so I am ready to believe.

For bigs that are likely to be available, I like Dieng from Louisville, Lucas Nogueira from Brazil and then Plumlee from Duke. I do not like Steven Adams from Pitt at all – he looks great and has excellent athleticism, but didn’t see that translate on the court at Pittsburgh – might be one of those bigs you can’t keep on the floor because, while they are sick athletically, they are lost.

At the wings I like Jamaal Franklin, the 6’5 SG from San Diego State. The Kawhi Leonard comps are obvious due to being from the same school, but expectations should be tempered due to Franklin being two inches shorter than Kawhi.

But Franklin does have strong tenacity on the court which, combined with his wingspan makes him a tough defender and strong rebounder from the wing, something the Hawks definitely lacked last season.

I wouldn’t expect Shabazz Muhammad to fall to the Hawks, but if he does, he’ll bring a mixed reaction from fans due to his underwhelming year at UCLA. But he is a solid scorer from the wing and might have the fastest vertical in the draft, which makes for good rebounding.

There has been a ton of focus (and rightfully so) on the two first-round picks, but what do you think is the best strategy for 2nd-round picks? Both in general, and specifically for the 2013 Hawks?

I like anybody who can project out as a rotation helper – good, cheap rotation help allows franchises to spend more on front line talent in FA or their own FA.

Do you believe that the Danny Ferry/Mike Budenholzer combination will be able to replicate the “Spurs model” in acquiring high-level talent (Parker, Leonard, Ginobili, Green) with late picks and rookie free agent signings?

Danny Ferry drafted Danny Green while at Cleveland and then coaxed the Spurs to bring Green over after Danny quit the Cavs. I like that the GM and coach will be of the same mindset in what type of player they are looking for. Now all they need is their Tim Duncan and they are all set.

Is there a player that is currently projected in the top 10 that you would like to see the Hawks target? If so, do you believe that it would be a good idea for a roster with so many question marks to package both 1st-rounders?

There are two players I believe to be difference makers in the top 10: Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke.

If the Hawks can package any/all picks to get up to take them versus rolling the dice on, at the high end, rotation talent, then I am all for it.

Burke is a traditional floor general point guard who can score and Oladipo is a solid, all-around, high athleticism wing who would be a souped-up version of Jamaal Franklin.

Lastly, I feel like Jeff Teague hasn’t been talked about too much even though his situation is still iffy. Do you think he will be back with Atlanta? Should he? Who is a good replacement for Teague either from the NBA Draft or Free Agency? In this same vein, what are your thoughts on Chris Paul? Is it going to be impossible or just really tough to get him to come to the Hawks?

He’ll only be back in Atlanta if he signs the qualifying offer because I don’t believe Ferry and company are convinced he has the mental approach needed to be a 10M/year, front line point guard.

To replace him, the Hawks will likely have to look to the draft or make do with some veterans until they can do so, much like the Spurs did before drafting Parker.

As far as Paul – as long as the Clippers deliver on Doc Rivers, who Paul personally campaigned for according to reports, then the Hawks have almost no chance to try and lure him over to Atlanta.

A huge thanks goes out to Jason for doing this Q&A with us here at ATL All Day and also managing a fantastic Hawks website. Hopefully in the coming days leading up to the draft, we can grab some more of their writers to talk about their opinions on the draft and where the Hawks are headed. Again, be sure to check out Peachtree Hoops. It’s definitely worth the click.