With the 2014 NBA Draft just a few days away you would think most teams would know what picks they would be making by now. However, between potential trades, players opting out of their contracts, draft picks getting injured or dropping out entirely and Cleveland picking first there’s really no such thing as a sure bet for who’s going to end up where.
The Atlanta Hawks barely fell into the playoffs before taking the Indiana Pacers to an unexpected Game 7. Last season was rough for the Hawks as the entire was injury riddled and Al Horford went down after Christmas. Clearly this team has the talent to go far in the East but it may not be enough. Hopefully the 15th and 43rd picks will be used to provide needed depth or at the very least develop into assets for trade fodder to acquire a superstar caliber player.
15th pick: There’s a wide variety of reports for who the Hawks are leaning towards drafting here. Many suggest that the Hawks are looking at the Bosnian Center, Jusuf Nurkic. The argument is that A: Mike Budenholzer wants the Hawks to be the Spurs of the Eastern conference and so that includes drafting and stashing as many foreign players as possible and B: Nurkic would allow Horford to play his natural role of Power Forward. But here’s the thing… The Hawks already have 3 centers! Pero Antic (a Macedonian) proved last season he is fully capable to play big minutes at the position, the 7-footer Lucas Nogueira (a Brazilian) was a Hawks first round pick last year that will be coming over and last year’s second round pick Mike Muscala (just an American) who played for the Hawks late in the season after being brought over from Spain. Drafting a center would make no sense unless the Hawks want to start a new passport stamp social media campaign. Plus, as long as Paul Millsap is still playing Horford will have to play most of his minutes at center anyway.
Other reports suggest the Hawks may look at taking a point guard like Shabazz Napier. But here’s the thing… The Hawks drafted a point guard last year! Dennis Schröder wasn’t a barn burner by any stretch but #FreeTheUmlaut. #PlayoffTeague also showed he was fully capable of rising to the occasion and Shelvin Mack proved again and again against the Pacers he was a quality backup.
The Hawks need wing depth plain and simple. There’s a whole crop of players that would fit the bill and depending on who falls to them Rodney Hood or James Young would make a great selection for the Hawks. But since the reports want them to draft a foreigner to stash away for another year or so why don’t we make a compromise? Dario Saric, who is arguably a top-10 talent, signed a contract with the Turkish team Anadolu Efes that will keep him overseas for at least two more years. He’s a Small/Power Forward and with Paul Millsap not locked up for the long term Saric could be the player of the future for the Hawks. Keeping him overseas would also leave the Hawks with the cap flexibility to chase a superstar in the meanwhile. Horford/Saric/Durant could look like a pretty scary frontcourt in 2016/
43rd pick: The Hawks seriously need depth at the wing position because at the moment this a burden born exclusively by Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll. C.J. Fair from Syracuse would make a great choice here. The 6-8 Small Forward would provide exactly the kind of player Coach Budenholzer looks for. He shot 47% from 3 last season and 1.6 attempts. An instant-scoring option off the bench, Fair would keep the 3-point bombing offense humming. Some may find issue with the fact that he isn’t an effective scorer off the dribble and is only good as a catch and shoot threat, but so is Korver to a large degree and he did just fine. In fact, Korver could serve as a great mentor for Fair on how to get himself open looks.