Whether fans realize it or not, the Hawks have fared pretty well on draft night in the post-Iso Joe era.
The Atlanta Hawks had the 16th and 17th picks in the 2013 NBA Draft. Giannis Antetokounmpo went 15th overall. Many have said there was absolutely no way he would slide past the Hawks on draft night. While this may haunt the franchise for years to come, they still got their own future star in Dennis Schroder. When Dennis and Lucas Noguiera were selected, the casual Hawks fan had no clue who they were. Many were simplay laughing at Noguiera trying to put a hat on top of his ridiculous hair. Dennis has now proven to be a really special talent, and if he cuts down on the turnovers and develops even further he could perhaps be the best player the Hawks have had since Dominique Wilkins. Lucas Noguiera, who ended up being traded to Toronto, has emerged as an up and coming role player.
However, no team can hit every year, and the Adreian Payne pick was definitely a bust. The Hawks should be thankful that the Timberwolves gave them a first for his services, which could put them on the board in the middle of the first next summer. That was a really disappointing pick for the team, and surely not the upside pick the fanbase was hoping for.
The team definitely made the right move trading for Tim Hardaway Jr. in 2015. All of a sudden the Hawks flipped their pick for a member of the 2014 All-NBA Rookie First Team. THJ has proven to have way more upside than anyone selected after that pick from Brooklyn. He really came into his own last season, and showed flashes of excellence at times with the Knicks prior. He is a special player and the shot creator the Hawks need.
The Hawks had two picks in last year’s draft. Many fans were shocked when the team took Taurean Prince 12th overall. Prince was not projected to be a lottery pick throughout the draft process by any means, but one year later the pick looks like a steal for Atlanta. Prince really came into his own by season’s end, with the reward being getting promoted to a starting role. Prince played really solid playoff basketball as a rookie, and is a promising 3-and-D prospect. The jury is still out on DeAndre Bembry due to lack of playing time, but he could offer something as well.
Three out of the last four draft nights, the Hawks have picked up high ceiling talents despite not having great picks. Do not fret if the Hawks do not take the “sexy” pick. Even though the team has a new general manager, the scouting department for the Hawks has clearly done a good job and the fanbase should trust them. With the 19th, 31st and 60th picks in this year’s draft, Travis Schlenk has already publicly discussed a potential trade up or trade down on draft night. If they can find a way to move up, this loaded draft class would be the perfect time for the Hawks to get another value pick to add to their young assets as they build for the future.
On draft night, expect the unexpected.