Atlanta Hawks: Draft reaction and last night’s trade

atlanta+hawksOne of the big difficulties in giving draft reactions is that these picks only represent a part of the picture. The Atlanta Hawks are an example of a team where the picks may look a little puzzling without perspective.

Overall the Hawks made good picks but at first glance may be a little confusing. They picked a Power Forward, a prospect Center and a Shooting Guard when wing depth is what the team needs most.

Lamar Patterson was a pick that made the most sense because it’s the position with the most need. But, based on him being the 48th pick, he’s likely not going to have much of an impact more than potentially playing spot minutes here and there.

Adreian Payne was the Hawks first selection at the 15th pick. Payne is projected to be a quality stretch four starter in the NBA but because of his age many question how large his development curve will be. Regardless of his potential development, Payne will very likely be a quality player for the Hawks.But drafting Payne also raised a few eyebrows. The team already has stretch-four potential with both Paul Millsap and Mike Scott, so it might be hard to find minutes for Payne. However, Millsap is on the last year of a very moveable contract and Scott is a restricted free agent.

The selection of Walter Tavares could also be viewed as a head-scratcher. Although he’s 7’2 and possesses one of the largest wingspans in NBA history he won’t be ready to play soon and the team already had Al Horford, Pero Antic, and Lucas Nogueira. But as we saw from last night’s trade, there is a much bigger plan.

Trading away Nogueira and Lou Williams for John Salmons will open up the potential for Salmons to be waived and the team to gain extra cap space. To win in the NBA you need star talent and by waiving Salmons and doing some other cap space finagling the Hawks will have enough space for a max contract. Although unlikely, a frontcourt of Horford, Millsap and Lebron/Carmelo would be an instant contender.

How do the draft picks fit into this? If the Hawks do end up trading Millsap for a better piece, Payne could hopefully fill in as a serviceable replacement, or Payne could be the one who ends up getting dealt himself. Tavares has potential but by keeping him overseas until he’s ready the Hawks will also save on cap space.

The Hawks have also reportedly looked at acquiring Luol Deng. Deng is a good player but this feels like a last resort move. He’s not worth a very large contract but Deng plus another quality wing player for a similar price could make the Hawks very threatening next season. Of course, it probably wouldn’t be the same caliber as if they were to get a superstar talent but this is a Spurs-esque team and the champs just showed that you don’t necessarily need an in-his-prime dominant superstar to win–but it certainly would help.