Atlanta Hawks Draft Recap: Did The Hawks Create Splash Brothers South?

Atlanta Hawks, Trae Young (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks, Trae Young (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

For the 1st time, in a long time, The Atlanta Hawks are the talk of the NBA. Rumors swirled that the Atlanta Hawks had been the most active team in pre-draft trade talks.

Oftentimes, rumors like this turn out to false, as a trade never materializes. Thursday night’s NBA Draft was not one of those times.

The Atlanta Hawks started and ended their NBA Draft night with trades. The Atlanta Hawks made Slovenian sensation Luka Dončić the number 3 overall pick in the 2018 draft. My pre-draft breakdown of Doncic can be found here. Shortly after, news broke that the Atlanta Hawks had traded Dončić, to the Dallas Mavericks, for the right to draft Oklahoma Point Guard Trae Young with the 5th pick in the draft. I broke down Trae Young’s game prior to the draft here.

Atl All Day‘s own Kit Anderson offered his thoughts on the transaction here. In addition, Atlanta also received a protected future 1st round pick, from the Dallas Mavericks. Marc Stein of the NY times detailed the protection with this tweet:

Trae Young, the Big 12 Freshman of the year, became the 1st Division 1 player in NCAA history to lead the Nation in scoring and assists. He averaged 27.4 points and 8.7 assists. The assist per game an average that Young tallied was the 4th highest since 1985. Trae also chipped in 3.9 rebounds, and a respectable 1.7 steals per contest.

Young is often compared to 2 time MVP Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, due to his incredible shooting range. Young, however, grew up a huge fan of, and patterned a lot of his game after, former Phoenix Suns’ PG Steve Nash. This especially shows in Young’s court vision and his pinpoint passing ability. Young seemed extremely excited to be playing for the Atlanta Hawks and tweeted such below:

Trae Young’s Stats

Per Game Table

Provided by CBB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 6/22/2018.

You can watch Young’s selection, and post draft interview courtesy of below:

The Hawks followed up their big trade by selecting Kevin Huerter of Maryland with the 19th pick in the NBA Draft. Huerter is a 6’7 Shooting Guard, from the University of Maryland. He has a 6’7 wingspan and compares physically to former Michigan Guard Nick Stauskus. Huerter averaged 14.8 points, 5 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. Kevin, a Sophomore, was All-Big 10 Honorable Mention. He recently underwent surgery on his right hand, will miss summer league, but is expected to be fully healed by training camp.

Huerter’s main selling point is his shooting ability. He shoots the 3 at a high percentage, (41.7%) and shoots comfortably from well beyond NBA range. Kevin is especially adept in catch and shoot situations. He shoots well standing still and coming off of screens. Huerter is a smart player and a good passer. He’s also a good rebounder for a guard.

Kevin Huerter’s weakness is, he’s not a very good ball handler. He doesn’t create his own shot often, or well. He’s not nearly as good a shooter off the dribble, as he is in catch and shoot situations. Kevin also needs to get stronger and improve on the defensive end. He’s not particularly quick and lacks ideal length. Atl All Day‘s Kit Anderson’s write up on Huerter can be found by clicking this link.

SI’s Jeremy Woo ranked Huerter #18 on his Big Board. He offered these thoughts on Kevin:

"After putting on a strong display at the draft combine, Huerter solidified his stock and is widely believed to have a promise in the 20s. According to sources, the Lakers are the team that promised. However, he’s more likely to end up drafted in the 18–21 range. With good size for a two-guard and a nice array of scoring skills, his fundamentally sound perimeter game, consistent three-point stroke and slick passing have endeared him to scouts. Huerter excels as a spot-up scorer, with smooth shooting mechanics and some ability to attack closeouts and use his height mismatch against smaller guards. He’s athletic enough to cut it, and while improving defensively is paramount, simply being a high-quality floor spacer with secondary skills is a good place to start."

Kevin Huerter’s Stats

Per Game Table

Provided by CBB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 6/22/2018.

FrankieVison put together an complete highlight package of Huerter’s Sophomore campaign.

With their 3rd selection, and 30th overall in Thursday night’s draft, The Atlanta Hawks drafted 6’9 260 lb, Villanova Center/Power Forward Omari Spellman. Omari averaged 10.8 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.5 blocked shots per game, as a Freshman for the NCAA Champion Villanova Wildcats. He was one of 4 Nova players drafted Thursday night. Spellman was the Big East Freshman of the Year, and an NCAA Tournament All Region Selection.

Omari Spellman’s appeal is his versatility. He’s able to post up inside, finish at the rim with authority, and block shots, all while shooting a high percentage from downtown. Spellman shot a scorching 43.3% from 3 point range, on 3.8 attempts per game. Omari also has a nice array of moves inside. He works opponents over in the post with drop steps, up and under moves, and a jump hook. Spellman has a high motor and is very active on the offensive glass. He’s also known to have a very high basketball IQ.

A weakness of Omari Spellman’s is he’s often overly aggressive on defense, resulting in frequent could trouble. He’s also known to settle for difficult jump shots, rattler than trusting his footwork inside. Omari also needs to improve his FT shooting. He shot 70% from the charity stripe, a low number for such a good 3 point shooter.

SI Draft expert Jeremy Woo rated Spellman 37th on his Big Board and offered this critique about his game.

"Spellman’s cerebral game has earned him a lot of fans in NBA circles. While improving his body and losing weight is key, leaving Villanova early may end up being a good decision for him, as he’s likely to be drafted by a team with a specific plan for utilizing his skills. After dropping weight during his redshirt year, Spellman was able to better showcase his athleticism and length as a shot-blocker and rebounder en route to a national title. He’s a legitimate set shooter from outside, committed to making winning plays and is a smart passer. He could be a sneaky value pick in the right situation."

Omari Spellman’s Stats

Per Game Table

Provided by CBB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 6/22/2018.

The Big East Conference put together this draft profile on Omari:

The Atlanta Hawks ended their draft night by selecting Kansas Guard Devonte Graham with the 34th pick in the draft. They promptly traded the pick to the Charlotte Hornets for 2 future 2nd round picks. The trade was 1st reported by Shams Charania of the Vertical.

Grade and what this means going forward for the Hawks

My draft grade for General Manager Travis Schlenk and The Atlanta Hawks front office is an A. Schlenk was able to draft Trae Young who he coveted all along, and pick up an additional 1st round pick that has a great probability of being a lottery selection. In addition, he was able to turn the 34th selection into 2 second round selections. For Travis to be able to acquire shooters at 3 different positions while stockpiling additional assets is nothing short of genius.

Speaking of shooting, with the acquisition of 3 shooters, Travis Schlenk’s plan is becoming more clear. It appears as if he’s attempting to construct “Splash Brothers South”, here with the Atlanta Hawks. Young will play the role of Curry, and Huerter should get an opportunity to audition for the Klay Thompson role. It’s also been said, that Omari Spellman is Schlenk’s attempt at finding a diamond in the rough ala Draymond Green.

Those 3 should team with forwards Taurean Prince and John Collins, along with Center Dewayne Dedmon, to form an exciting core group for the upcoming season. Dedmon exercised his player option for 7.2 million dollars, to return to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. At the same time, accepting the option also made Dewayne eligible to be included in trades, so it remains to be seen if he will be a part of the core moving forward.

The incumbent players thought to be most affected by this draft, are Dennis Schröder and Kent Bazemore. It had been reported prior to the draft, that the Atlanta Hawks have made their PG Schröder available. Our own Kit Anderson detailed the report here. Kent Bazemore was also reportedly placed on the trade block. Mr. Anderson’s synopsis on that news can be viewed here. Schröder, the Hawks leading scorer, has previously expressed a lack of desire to be with a rebuilding franchise.

On Friday the Hawks’ GM stated that he believes Trae and Dennis can co-exist and thrive together. Personally, I believe this is Schlenk’s attempt to salvage trade value for Schröder. With Young now entrenched as the Hawks PG of the future, Schröder’s days in Atlanta are certainly numbered. Kent Bazemore is sure to be shopped going forward too, as the Atlanta Hawks continue to stockpile assets and rebuild through the draft.

All and all, I am pleased with the results of the Atlanta Hawks’ 2018 NBA Draft haul. I’m very excited to see if the success on paper, translates to success on the basketball court. Young is a polarizing prospect, who is considered to be boom or bust. The fanbase is quite divided on social media, and message boards, as to rather Young was the correct selection.

Next: Trae Young Headed to Atlanta

The key to this draft, will be whether Young is successful, as well as what becomes of the draft pick acquired from Dallas. An additional bonus of drafting Trae Young is he’s a highly discussed prospect. This should bring national attention and televised games for the Atlanta Hawks who haven’t been a national story since the 60 win season. So I salute GM Travis Schlenk, and here’s to hoping Trae Young is a Sonic Boom, for the Atlanta Hawks!