Travis Schlenk has acknowledged it, and our own Alex Lord has already talked about it: if there is one weakness on this Hawks roster right now, it’s behind Trae Young. Lou Williams performed admirably, and he was a substantial upgrade over Rajon Rondo, but he’ll be 35-years-old next season and is reportedly looking for a multi-year contract. Schlenk has already said there is mutual interest in Williams returning, but if Atlanta wants to upgrade at the position, there are some better options also set to hit free agency.
5. Patty Mills
For the last decade, Patty Mills has been a staple of the San Antonio Spurs off their bench. He’s a terrific jump shooter that can score in bunches when he gets hot. He and Lou Williams are very similar in terms of what they offer — scoring without much defense — but Mills is a bigger threat from the perimeter and a couple of years younger.
4. Lou Williams
Williams is no longer a sixth man, but he’s still a microwave that can get hot and lead a team to a victory on any given night. We saw that in the playoffs on a couple of different occasions, specifically when he had to step in and start for an injured Trae Young during the Eastern Conference Finals. His age is a bit of a concern, but his game doesn’t rely much on his athleticism, so I believe he’s got a couple of good years left. More importantly, his veteran leadership was tremendous. Trae Young noted it on several occasions, which is why I gave Williams the edge over Mills.
McConnell might not be the sexiest name, but he’s an efficient player that does all the little things right. He averaged 8.6 points and 6.6 assists off the bench for the Pacers this season on 55.9% shooting from the field. Ideally, you’d like to see him shoot the ball better from deep — he’s only made his threes at a 32.9% clip for his career — but his defense and playmaking ability make up for that. McConnell would be a nice fit behind Trae Young.
The Cameron Payne revival this season has been nothing short of spectacular. This is a guy who looked like he was on his way out of the NBA, and now he’s a critical piece to a team that is two wins away from hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy. Payne averaged 8.4 points and 3.6 assists off the bench for the Suns this season, nearly shooting 50/40/90, and like the next guy on our list, he’s stepped his game up in the playoffs. This would be a fantastic addition to the Hawks second unit, but I have a tough time seeing the Suns letting him walk unless he receives starting-caliber money, which he won’t be getting from Atlanta.
1. Derrick Rose
The trade that sent Derrick Rose from Detroit to the New York Knicks revitalized his career. He averaged nearly 15 points in 35 games with the Knicks on 48.7% from the field and 41.1% from deep. Rose also chipped in 4.9 assists and was their best player in their first-round playoff series versus the Hawks, averaging 19.4 points and 5.0 assists on 47.6% from the field and 47.1% from three. MVP Derrick Rose may be long gone, and health will always be a concern, but if he can stay on the court, he might be the best backup point guard in the league. If I’m the Knicks, I would do everything in my power to keep him, but he’s an unrestricted free agent, and joining a young and ultra-talented team like the Hawks has to be attractive.
Photo: John McCoy/Icon Sportswire