Travis Schlenk will not commit to the word rebuild. However, he also made it clear that the team would not be announcing any free agents at 12:01, which means Atlanta likely will not be big players in free agency. So unless Schlenk has something up his sleeve, the Hawks are not going to be great next year. And with the whole starting five from the 60-win season gone, they are surely rebuilding. That is okay, but it is strange that Schlenk will not just admit it. This could be more for public relations reasons and season ticket holders.
The future is bright for Atlanta though, and that is because they have a nice young core of talent, accumulated draft picks, and appear to be a potential lottery team. This is the perfect time for Atlanta to take a chance on project players. They do not make you better right away, and the upside is much higher. Let’s take a look at some guys who Hawks University could tap into their potential.
Just four seasons ago, Michael Carter-Williams was the Rookie of the Year. Now, he is an afterthought and an unrestricted free agent. Malcolm Delaney simply could not hit shots, and while he was a rookie, his job should be far from safe. Coach Bud has always liked to run with two good point guards. He also praises defense, and could make great use of MCW’s ridiculous 6’6″ frame against point guards. His troubles in the NBA have had to do with his poor shooting. At 25, the Hawks could throw him into the system and hope that a change of scenery does him some good. After all, the Sixers and Bulls have not exactly been in great situations during his time with each respective team.
Many were all aboard the Ben McLemore train going into the NBA Draft. He has been a bust in the NBA, but he could benefit from a change of scenery from the dysfunctional Kings. I would not mind seeing the Hawks giving McLemore a flier because I think he still has potential, but I also would not mind Tyler Dorsey getting the minutes either. Kent Bazemore and his albatross contract will be hard to move, so they may not have minutes to give here if Tim Hardaway Jr. is retained.
Travis Schlenk has publicly said he will add another power forward. Williams should be prime target number one for the Hawks. Collins may not be ready to play right away. Dennis Schroder, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Taurean Prince are very talented, and all of them played sparingly upon arriving in Atlanta. Williams would offer the Hawks another quality big man, and an incredible rebounder. At just 6’7″, Williams was a two-time leading rebounder in the NCAA for UC Santa Barbara. In 2016, Williams led the entire Chinese Basketball Associations in rebounds at a 15.4 RPG clip. This was enough to get Williams a 10-day deal from the Suns. He has never looked back. He would be a much better option for small ball situations than Mike Muscala. Inch for inch, Williams is one of the best up and coming players in the league. One stat that sticks out is that he posted a 19.59 PER last season. If he gets a starting opportunity with Atlanta, he could put up big numbers and offer the Hawks a potential all-under 25 starting lineup. Per 36 minutes last season, he averaged 17.6 points and 14.8 rebounds.
T-Rob may not have provided the value of most 5th overall picks, but one thing is for sure: he is still a man. He offers rebounding, and right now the Hawks have no centers rostered who can do that. Big men usually take longer to develop, and Robinson is still just 26. He has bounced around the league, but he rebounds everywhere he goes. Hawks University could do him some good. After all, it is a very weak center market.