Low Flying Draft

kenBy: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The NBA Draft is now over. Some teams made drastic moves to get better while others might have gotten worse. I’m going to take a look at the Atlanta Hawks offseason moves and evaluate their draft picks.

Head coach Michael Budenholzer began his career in Atlanta for the 2013-14 season. He had a sub .500 record his first year but the team still made the playoffs.

The last two years have been winning seasons and his overall record is 146-100 (not counting playoffs). Not bad but the team was swept two consecutive years by Cleveland. There is clearly a large gap between the elite teams and the Hawks.

Atlanta needs at least one superstar to help them compete with the upper echelon franchises. They currently do not have that on the roster so they must acquire top level talent through the draft or free agency.

As you may have noticed Atlanta has not been a destination for players of that caliber. Players like Kevin Durant or LeBron James will not even put Atlanta in their top five possible free agent destinations so that is not an option.

The draft is the best bet for a star player. The only problem is with so many one and done college players the vast majority are not ready to contribute immediately in the NBA.

After the top five players there is a precipitous drop in talent. The Hawks are good enough to make the playoffs but not good enough to compete with the best. Basically their stuck in a rut and need to figure out a way to progress.

I feel like they need to take a page out of Philadelphia’s playbook and tank. That’s another city that knows they won’t land high end free agents so they have to draft players like that.

The 76ers got rid of talent and lost as many games as possible for the last few years in hopes of getting the highest draft pick. They had the No. 3 overall pick in 2014 and 2015. In 2016 their futility paid off and they got the top pick.

I thought the Hawks were on the right track when they traded their best player, Jeff Teague in a three-way deal on the eve of the draft. Atlanta acquired the No. 12 pick from the Utah Jazz. That means Utah drafted Baylor small forward Taurean Prince and traded him to ATL.

Prince is 6’8”, 220-pounds so he has good size. He’s a rare player that stayed all 4 years in college. In the past we would say he has a lot of experience and that should translate to a high basketball IQ.

In this era we have to wonder why it took him so long to have a breakout season in his final year. Has he already reached his full potential?

Junior small forward DeAndre’ Bembry from St. Joseph’s was selected with the 21st pick. He won the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year last season while averaging 17.4 points per game, 7.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists.

The problem is this was against mid-major talent. He’s 6’6 so he’s undersized for his position and he only shot 27.2% from beyond the arc as a junior.

Shooting guard Isaia Cordinier was picked in the 2nd round with the 44th pick. He’s from France so I don’t know much about him. He reportedly will play one more season in France before he comes to the NBA.

The final pick was traded to Cleveland, guard Kay Felder was picked. Overall I don’t think the roster improved after the draft.