After years of questionable trades, poor draft picks and little success as a franchise, there should not be anything that surprises Hawks fans anymore. However, you would not have known that after last night. Let’s say for now the reviews are “mixed” after Atlanta traded the third pick away for the electrifying sniper Trae Young, who was the most hot-and-cold prospect of the 2018 draft. He might be one of the biggest busts in draft history or he could be the next Steph Curry. Obviously, the Hawks are expecting the latter.
Last offseason, Travis Schlenk took over the front office of the Hawks and immediately ripped the team to shreds. Schlenk had just helped build the Warriors into one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history, and after eleven straight postseason appearances for the Hawks with little success, nobody was arguing a change in direction. It would be this offseason, though, where we could finally start to see the direction Schlenk was bringing the team. And after three first-round draft picks, it is not hard to see he is following in the footsteps of his former team.
It is no secret Trae Young’s closest comparison in the NBA is Steph Curry. Then Schlenk doubled down on his Warriors-like prospects by selecting Keven Huerter out of Maryland. Huerter possesses a high basketball IQ and more importantly strokes it from all over the court. His stroke really does not change no matter where he is shooting from or how he is shooting. It does not matter if he is coming off a screen, standing in the corner, off the dribble, or from 15 feet to 30 feet Huerter can put the ball in the basket.
What is underrated in his game is everything else. He has shown the ability to put the ball on the floor and finish as an athlete. He is a quality passer that averaged over three assists a game last season, a willing defender and can rebound the ball well from the guard position. When you watch him play, it is hard not to see the similarities between him and Klay Thompson. Maybe Schlenk is up to something after all.
The comparisons do not stop there, either. Atlanta had the last pick in the first round as well, and shocked most of the NBA world by taking Omari Spellman out of Villanova. In a draft with so much talent, Spellman was not projected to sniff the first-round. He is not very athletic, approaching 21-years old and does not have an outstanding shooting stroke. Spellman has made his living off of toughness and hustle plays. At Villanova, he often played the five even though he is just 6’9″. Travis Schlenk, after the fact, said that he thinks he can guard 3’s as well. Defensive versatility is certainly the best asset Spellman brings to the table. If everything turns out perfectly, the Hawks found their very own Draymond Green.
That is just the thing about these three selections. In a utopian world, these three prospects are Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, but the reality is the team will be lucky if even one of these picks reaches that potential. Atlanta took a lot of risks Thursday Night. The one thing you can say: Travis Schlenk went out and got the guys he wanted. These selections have Golden State Warriors written all over them, but that is a dynasty that will not easily be replicated.