NBA Draft 2013: Can the Hawks Trade Up?


Bloomington, USA; Indiana Hoosiers guard Victor Oladipo (4) defends Michigan Wolverines guard Trey Burke (3) at Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

In the midst of the absolute flurry of NBA Draft discussion this week, an interesting rumor has risen to the top for Hawks fans. Marc Spears of Yahoo! reported interest by the Hawks in moving up into the top-5, and while this nugget of information was buried in a piece referring to the Hawks working on Shabazz Muhammed and Jamaal Franklin for workouts, the notion of a big jump in the 1st round stole the show.

Rumors have swirled about who the Hawks would be targeting in the top five, but the two names on everyone’s mind are Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke. I have been passionate about my love for Oladipo, and as a self-described Michigan hoops fan, Trey Burke is a player that I’ve seen play more than anyone else in the 2013 Draft. Let’s take a quick look at the two players.

Oladipo is a 6-foot-4 swingman who is insanely athletic, and has even drawn comparison to Dwyane Wade. While those comps are a bit strong for me, I’m in love with Oladipo’s game because of his defensive contributions. He’s got great length (6-foot-9 wingspan) and bulk for a defender, and he plays the game with tenacity on that end that allows him to be versatile enough to guard point guards as well as bigger wings. In addition, he’s improved tremendously on his jumper, and while he’s not “there” yet with that part of his game, the big-time steps are encouraging. Throw in a legendary work ethic (no, really), and zero character concerns, and it’s easy to see why any team (Hawks included) would want his services.

Burke is a bit more divisive. He was the national player of the year in college, but there are real size/athleticism concerns surrounding the Michigan point guard. He’s listed at 6-foot-1, but that is generous, and he’s not the “wow” athlete that Oladipo is. However, he’s very strong, can use his body effectively, and his vision and decision-making are tremendous. He’s a skilled shot-maker who shoots with range, and he’s never had issues (to this point) getting his shot off in traffic. On the defensive end, there are worries about his effectiveness, but the effort isn’t an issue, and even if he was an “average” defender, that could be a win. The “fit” with the Hawks could be a question, as Burke is a point guard or combo guard in the pros, and with Lou Williams on the roster and Jeff Teague in flux, that would represent an interesting sidebar.

What does this all mean? Well, there are two issues with the Hawks attempting to move up.

First, I’m not positive that Atlanta has the assets to actually get up to #2 (in a rumored trade with Orlando) or even to the top-5 at all. The Hawks do hold the #17, #18, #47, and #50 picks, but the worth of those mid-tier first rounders is up for debate in a weak draft, and the only non-pick asset that the Hawks could deal is John Jenkins.

Secondly, I’m not sure that the Hawks want to move up. That sounds crazy, but with a roster that basically consists of Al Horford, Lou Williams, John Jenkins, and a bunch of empty chairs, some people could believe that the Hawks need warm bodies with all of their picks. I’m not in this camp, simply because a) it would affect free-agent possibilities to fill both guaranteed 1st-round picks, and b) the level of impact that Oladipo or Burke could make would be impressive.

In the end, this could be a bunch of chatter about nothing. The Hawks are still working out mid-tier guys (see Muhammed and Franklin), and could easily make one or both of their 1st-round picks in place. Either way, it’s going to be an entertaining week, and I can’t help but see visions of Victor Oladipo or Trey Burke flying around in red and blue.