The Hawks face an interesting scenario this offseason and in the 2022 NBA Draft. At pick 16, they sit outside the lottery, but that’s a place where Hawks GM Travis Schlenk has found success over the years, drafting both Kevin Huerter and John Collins 19th overall. Although Atlanta’s first rounder is sure to be a trade chip in any splashy moves, it’s worth looking into some options that could be available.
For those curious, Tari Eason is the pick I ended up going with. Eason is one of the grittiest players available in the draft, which is exactly what the Hawks need. The LSU forward stands at 6’8”, 215 pounds and possesses a unique skillset.
Tari Eason thrives in the open floor. He does a great job of using his power, size, athletic tools, and finishing ability to finish off plays. His defense leads to a lot of his offense. He finished in the 90th percentile in transition. pic.twitter.com/swSWtQ883V
— Global Scouting (@GlobalScouting_) May 22, 2022
Although his three point shooting is inconsistent, Eason has the mechanics in place to succeed from long range. In addition, he is excellent at scoring in the pick-and-roll, something that will pair well with Trae Young no matter who else is on the team next season. Defense is another quality that Atlanta should be seeking out, and Eason might be the best defensive player in this draft. He is tenacious, aggressive, and brings attitude to that side of the floor — all qualities the Hawks need to be targeting.
Eason’s fit in Atlanta would be seamless. The 21-year-old has the size, hustle, and defensive versatility to potentially grab minutes while trying to improve his shooting. At the very least, Eason has a high enough floor to help out the second unit right away.
TyTy Washington is an athletic guard at Kentucky that comes in at 6’3”, 197 pounds. The freshman struggled early on in the 2021 season, but pulled it together to average 12 points and four assists per game. Washington has been projected as a lottery pick in some instances, but there’s a chance he slips to 16. If he does, his upside alone makes him worth a look.
He is mainly known for his elite playmaking abilities. Although he can be hotheaded at times, jaw-dropping passes are routine for the point guard. Washington also has a knack for being able to score in the paint in a multitude of ways.
17 points, 17 assists, 2 turnovers for projected lottery pick TyTy Washington. Broke John Wall's single-game record for assists by a Kentucky player, and the most-ever for a freshman in SEC-play, per @JaredBerson. pic.twitter.com/QzINnDAHCz
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) January 9, 2022
Washington has massive upside in the NBA, but his fit with the Hawks isn’t as picture-perfect as Eason’s. Because of that, it seems unlikely the Hawks would take him; however, Schlenk has always taken a best player available approach in the draft. If Washington is at the top of his big board by the time Atlanta is on the clock, which very well could be the case, expect the Hawks to take him.
Photo: Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire