I’m not going to go through grading each selection. I’m judging this draft class as a whole, and it all starts with the trade to acquire Allen Crabbe from the Brooklyn Nets.
After that deal, the Hawks owned six selections, including three in the first round (8,10,17). They traded two of their second rounders for future picks, leaving them with four. Travis Schlenk had his eye on De’Andre Hunter, so he sent the 8th, 17th, and 35th selections to the Pelicans for the 4th pick, 57th pick, and Solomon Hill’s abysmal contract. So basically, Schlenk decided to use the Hawks cap space on expiring contracts, knowing they would not be players in free agency, so that they could move up four spots in the draft.
That’s pure genius. If you look at the picks the Hawks had two months ago, they moved up from 8 to 4 and only gave up the 35th pick. Sure, taking on 30 million dollars of unwanted salary isn’t ideal, but all of that money comes off the books next season – when the Hawks plan on being more active in free agency. Right now, the focus remains on rebuilding, and Travis Schlenk is killing the game. What happened next was a stroke of luck.
Cam Reddish was a player Atlanta was extremely high on. Shams even reported they were considering him with the fourth pick. They wound up taking Hunter, but then Reddish fell in their laps at ten. It was a no brainer for Schlenk, who said at his press conference following the pick, “We had him much higher on our draft boards.”
Reddish didn’t have the stellar year at Duke that many expected, but the upside with this pick is indisputable. This is a 6’9″ wing that has the smoothest jumper in the class, regardless of what the percentages say. Sharing the floor with two ball-dominant superstars isn’t easy, and Schlenk expressed that they were fond of the way he handled it. Reddish was made to play pro-basketball and can be an impact player from day one on a young Hawks team.
Schlenk wasn’t done there. He had one more trick up his sleeve, trading the 57th pick and future second-round selections to move up to 34 and take Bruno Fernando out of Maryland. This might be the biggest steal of them all. Fernando is a 6’10” center that can control the paint on both sides of the ball. He has fantastic hands and skill around the basket with the athleticism to match. His shot blocking is superb, and Fernando should be able to develop a consistent three-point shot. There’s a chance he could start as early as next year and be the center of the future in Atlanta.
So what’s the grade?
I’m not sure how this deserves anything other than the highest possible grade. Outside of the Pelicans, who lucked out and landed Zion Williamson, the Hawks won this draft running away. De’Andre Hunter is a defensive stalwart with All-Star potential, Cam Reddish is a similar type of player and possesses a superstar ceiling, and Bruno Fernando is a second-round pick that many people thought could go in the lottery. Travis Schlenk did it again, and the Hawks are going to be a team to watch next year and for years to come.