The possibilities seemed endless heading into the NBA draft. Atlanta reportedly was shopping their number 12 and 21 picks to move up even further in the draft. Was Buddy Hield going to be a Hawk by night’s end, was Jamal Murray going to become our very own splash brother, could the hometown star Jaylen Brown lead the Hawks to their first title like Lebron just did in Cleveland? They all seemed like fantasies, but with the acquiring of the number 12 pick for Jeff Teague, it did not seem far off from becoming a reality.
That all changed after the first seven picks of the draft. All three of those guys came off the board, and the possibility of the Hawks getting Dennis Schroder a new running mate vanished. The Hawks stood pat at the twelve spot and ended up drafting Taurean Prince, a small forward out of Baylor. Prince is a long wing player who averaged 15.9 points and 6.4 rebounds in his senior season. He was one of the few NBA ready wing players in this draft, and Atlanta has had their eye on him since day one. The picks caught a lot of people by surprise and was the first real reach by any team in the draft. Prince very well could have been available at the 21st pick, but clearly the Hawks were not take any chances of letting him slip away. His pro comparison is Demarre Carroll, who the Hawks definitely missed last season. He is a 3 and D prospect and could step in and start day one.
The biggest problem with this pick is also the best part about it. Prince will likely never be a superstar player. He was projected by most to go late in the first round and lacks superior scoring ability. He will be limited offensively in the NBA, but should develop into a great defender. Atlanta did not look for a boom or bust guy, who could possibly lift the franchise to new heights. Prince is not going to be the guy to put Atlanta over the top and lead them to a championship. He is a clue but not the answer. However, the Hawks know what they got when they drafted Prince and they got their guy. His unique ability to do just about everything makes him a perfect fit for this team, and could wind up being a big piece of the puzzle going forward. He hustles, he plays defense, he is athletic and he can shoot but he is not a standout in any one of these categories. The glass half full way to look at is, the Hawks had a hunch about Prince and they did everything they could to make sure he wound up in Atlanta.
With the 21st overall pick, Atlanta was able to snag Deandre Brembry out of St. Joes. He spent three seasons in college and did everything for St. Joes while he was there. In his junior season he averaged 17.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. He is another jack-of-all-traits wing player that should be ready to contribute day one for the Hawks. The most intriguing part of his game is his passing ability. It got better every season in college, making Brembry one of the best passing wing players in the NCAA. The one thing Brembry really lacks is jump shooting. He only shot 26.6% his junior season from behind the arc. Most of his offense comes from attacking the basket. His terrific finishing to go along with his vision make him a very interesting prospect. A jump shot is one of the easier things to develop, and the Hawks organization has been terrific at developing young players. If Brembry can add a consistent three-point jump shot to his game, he has some serious potential.
Atlanta needed more help on the wing coming into this draft and they got it in Brembry and Prince, but neither of these players have star potential. Its tough to see either of these guys turning into perennial all-stars. Atlanta played this draft really safe and it could end up hurting them in free agency. Many teams will be competing for the services of Kent Bazemore and Al Horford, and this is not the kind of draft that makes it easier for them to stay. Atlanta had a golden opportunity to swing for the fences on draft night, but they held back. They could have made a move, or at the very least taken a little more risk in one of their picks. If Al Horford walks, they are going to look back at this draft as a huge missed opportunity. Coming into draft night, Atlanta had a chance to do something great, but the drafting of Prince and Brembry will leave most Hawks fans underwhelmed.