Atlanta Hawks

Shaking Out The Lottery

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The 2023 NBA Draft is June 22nd. Let’s take a look at the teams around the Southeast and see what players they’re likely to select in the first round.

Charlotte (27 – 55): The Hornets hold the No. 2 pick. The consensus top pick in the draft is 7’4 center Victor Wembanyama. He’s projected to be the top pick for San Antonio. If that does not happen Charlotte would take him.

The most likely pick will be guard Scoot Henderson. Henderson has played in the G League for the Ignite for the past two years.

In the 2022-23 season he averaged 17.6 points per game, 6.6 assists and 5.1 rebounds. He has proven that he can play on or off the ball. Henderson will be a great backcourt mate with LaMelo Ball because they project to be a good fit offensively.

Orlando (34 – 48): The Magic have two lottery picks, sixth and eleventh. They are looking to add another piece to a roster that features Paolo Banchero, Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, and others.

The best available remaining player at No. 6 should be Jarace Walker (Houston). He was the AAC Freshman of the Year last season.

The 6’8 forward averaged 11.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg and 1.8 apg. He measured in with a 7-foot, 2.5-inch wingspan at the draft combine, something that the Magic will love. Outside of his defense, Walker showed that he can be a capable shooter at the next level after converting 34.7% from the three-point line.

The 11th pick might be Kansas forward Gradey Dick. He is a player that could step in and fill an immediate need for the Magic: 3-point shooting.

He set the Jayhawks freshman record for most 3s in a season (83) after shooting 40.3% shooting from 3-point range. The Magic desperately need shooting so Dick could be the pick here.

New Orleans (42-40): The Pelicans are a team on the cusp of being very good. They have a star player in Zion Williamson but he struggles with his weight and injuries.

6’10 forward Leonard Miller might be a good fit. He played for the G League Ignite and averaged 16.9 ppg and 10.1 rpg. He does much of his work in the paint but shot 30.4% from 3-point range on 2.4 attempts per game last season.

Atlanta (41 – 41): The Hawks have the 15th pick. I think their problem is they typically are an average team every year and they typically draft in the mid to late teens. Trae Young is a star player but they keep struggling to add another elite player. Since they don’t have a high pick they will be looking for another role player.

Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin might be a good fit. He’s 6’4 so he would add size to the backcourt and he averaged 14 ppg.

Miami: The Heat are on the verge of getting into the Eastern Conference Finals. They have the No. 18 pick so they look to add a younger piece to a good team.

Indiana point guard Jalen Hood-Schifino would be a good pick. He’s 6’6 so he has the size to defend both guard positions.

He showed great poise throughout the year and dished out the fourth-most assists (117) in program history by a freshman.

Memphis (51 – 31): The Grizzlies will select forward Bilal Coulibaly (France). He has the ability to get downhill and finish at the rim.


NBA Newcomers

By: Jason Bishop news services

The NBA Draft has come and gone for another season. In recent years the draft has not been very deep. In most scenarios if you do not hold one of the first three of four picks then you are not drafting a franchise-type player.

This draft was no different. Many experts believed the first four players taken were players that could change the fortunes of an organization but after that, such impact players did not exist.

There were no surprises at the top either. The Orlando Magic took Paolo Banchero number one overall.

Banchero was a star at forward for the Duke Blue Devils. The true freshman averaged over 17 points per game and over 7 rebounds per game.

Banchero is 6’10-250 pounds. He has great size and has a good NBA body. I think Banchero will find success in playing down low and being physical in the NBA, more than he will find with playing at the top of the key and being the main option.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Banchero will be a solid NBA player, but I don’t see him as a superstar; he is a good building block and will be a great core piece for the Magic.

The Atlanta Hawks had the 16th overall pick and with it selected another Duke F, AJ Griffin.

Griffin also has an NBA-ready frame, at 6’6 220 pounds. Griffin started slow for the Blue Devils but became crucial for Duke during their late season run.

Griffin has NBA pedigree as well. He is the son of NBA veteran and Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin. Griffin was also a McDonald’s All-American and was considered one of the top 15 players in last fall’s incoming freshman class.

Missing much of the preseason with a leg injury, the New York native got off to a slow start in his lone collegiate season. Griffin also made the ACC All-Rookie Team. He averaged over 10 points per game for Duke.

What I like the most about Griffin is the ability for him to create his own shot. This will help the Hawks if he can improve on his ball handling and quickness.

The Magic also took Caleb Houstan. Houstan was a F out of Michigan, 6-8 205 pounds. Houstan was the 32nd overall pick.

The Hawks would have had the 44th pick but it was traded to the Golden State Warriors.

The first 5 picks of the NBA Draft were as follows:


1.Paolo Banchero-Magic

2.Chet Holmgren-Thunder

3.Jabari Smith-Rockets

4.Keegan Murray-Kings

5.Jaden Ivey-Pistons

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch June 19

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch June 19


Mr. Bright Side

By: JJ Lanier news services

When the NBA Draft Lottery was over, every organization represented, outside of New Orleans, must have felt as if they were caught in the middle of a funeral procession; their hopes of drafting Zion Williamson had just died before their eyes.

For Atlanta, their chance of landing college basketball’s most exciting player in over a decade was slim to begin with. I wouldn’t have blamed Jami Gertz, the Hawks representative at the lottery, had she gone ahead and just worn black.

As for the overall draft lottery, Atlanta’s night was a bit of a mixed bag.

For starters, besides missing out on the number one pick they wound up with the 8th overall pick, only one spot above their worst possible outcome.

On the other hand, since Dallas’ pick fell outside the top five (10th overall) it went to Atlanta- courtesy of last year’s trade- giving the Hawks two top 10 picks.

Now that the lottery is set it’s just a matter of who Atlanta decides to go with. If their history is any indication, like most every other organization in the NBA, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, too.

This will be only the third draft since 2007, and 10th in the past 30 years, that has seen the Hawks with a lottery pick. (That’s impressive when you think about it. During the past three decades Atlanta has basically spent two of those decades in the playoffs. Of course, they don’t have a single NBA Finals appearance to show for it, but that’s another story for another time).

Over that 30-year time frame there have been some lottery success stories with Jason Terry (1999), Al Horford (2007) Trae Young (2018).

On the other hand, there have also been some flat out busts: Adam Keefe, DerMarr Johnson, and Sheldon Williams.

There’s also a trade where the Hawks basically gave away a young Pau Gasol for two years of Shareef Abdur-Rahim and a handful of magic beans, but we won’t talk about that. You’ve got some good, you’ve got some bad.

It’s almost disingenuous and a bit lazy to say Atlanta has a lot riding on this year’s draft; anytime you’re drafting in the lottery it’s important. There are a few things that seem to add a bit more to this year though.

The draft itself is top heavy, with RJ Barrett, Ja Morant, and Williamson being the consensus top three picks, and not in that order, obviously.

However, after those three there is a pretty precipitous drop in talent. That’s not to say there isn’t anyone worthwhile outside of those three, there’s just much more of an inherent risk.

The Hawks have a nice nucleus of young talent and getting someone that can contribute within the next year or two will go a long way in their return to the playoffs.

Then there’s the matter of the 10th pick. Young and Luka Doncic will always be compared to each other since they were the names involved in last year’s trade. Who Atlanta chooses with that 10th pick and how well that player performs will play just as vital a role in how this trade is perceived five to ten years down the road.

The draft order may not have turned out exactly how they wanted, but with two top 10 picks Atlanta has an opportunity to continue building.

Who knows, maybe under the funeral attire there just might be a celebratory outfit after all.


By: TJ Hartnett news services

As March Madness fades even further in the rearview mirror and the NBA season winds down as it ramps up for the playoffs, the convergence of the two levels appears on the horizon: the NBA Draft.

Pro teams wait for the draft lottery to see where they’ll land while college players wait for the chance make the leap to the big time.

This year the draft features an embarrassment of riches; a wealth of young talent that could potentially chance the fortunes of any team that has been struggling. Impressively, a few of those game-changing talents all come from one place.

Any NCAA basketball team would be a threat if they could boast just one player who might get drafted in the top 10 of the NBA Draft. However, this past season saw the Duke Blue Devils boast THREE players that could be considered for high picks.

While the draft lottery has yet to come, the Atlanta Hawks can at least count on an early pick and therefore need to start looking at Duke’s Big 3 to see which of those players might be the best fit come draft time.

R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson are all leaving college behind and should all expect to hear their names called without much time passing in between when the draft happens later in the summer.

There isn’t much more to be said about Zion Williamson that hasn’t already been said by every sports show, paper, and fan, and if the Hawks do wind up with the number one pick in the draft, it’s a no-brainer to draft his game-changing talent.

Williamson’s star power might overwhelm some of the other young and talented players the Hawks have already enlisted but John Collins and Trae Young might see his presence as a challenge and up their own games.

There’s also the chance that pulling focus away from those two might help them grow and develop without as much pressure, since they’re essentially the focal point of the team’s future plans at the moment.

In short, Zion is the best player available, and the Hawks would surely love for him to suit up in Atlanta.

If they don’t end up with the first pick in the draft and assuming that Williamson goes first, there are still two Blue Devils options available – R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish.

Barrett would help the team with shot creation options, as Trae Young (and Taurean Prince, to a certain extent) is the only Hawk who seems to be able to make that happen right now.

Barrett sometimes tries for shots he doesn’t need to in an effort to win at all costs, but he could gain valuable experience handling the ball off the bench in Atlanta if he takes to Lloyd Pierce’s coaching style.

That leaves Cam Reddish.

Reddish, much more than either of his two eminently talented teammates, struggled quite heartily in his freshman season at Duke. The 19-year-old could never quite find his niche on the team, which should’ve been catch-and-shoot, three-and-D specialist, but Reddish could often be seen hurtling into traffic toward the paint, then getting called for an increasingly predictable offensive foul as defenders were sent flying as he careened into them wildly.

However, Reddish showed brilliant flashes throughout the year and made himself a legend at Duke with a pair of clutch baskets that won key games for them during the season.

He’s got enough raw, untapped potential that he will certainly get snatched up early in the draft and the Hawks might be the team that calls his name.

Worst Of The worst

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr. news services

The NBA regular season is almost over. We know who the top contenders are and also the struggling teams. This makes me wonder what is the worst division in the league?

It looks like the Southeast division is by far the weakest. The best team, the Miami Heat are only 38-38. Every other division leader has at least 50 wins.

Miami currently holds the eighth seed in the playoffs. Orlando (38-39) is ninth and Charlotte (35-41) is tenth.

The other two teams in the division, Washington (32-46) and Atlanta (28-49) are terrible.

One of the reasons the division is so bad is because it lacks talent. Only four players made the 2019 All-Star Game and only one was a starter. They were Kemba Walker (24.9 PPG, 5.6 APG), Nikola Vucevic (20.4 PPG, 10.6 RPG), Bradley Beal (25.1 PPG, 5.4 APG) and Dwyane Wade (14 PPG). Being honest, Wade was voted in out of sympathy because it is his last season.

Walker has made three All-Star appearances. John Wall is also an elite player that has made five All-Star teams but he was injured in December (ruptured Achilles) and he is out the rest of the year.

Historically, these teams are some of the worst in the NBA. The Miami Heat are the most successful with three championships. All of them came this century. The only other franchises that have championships are the Washington Bullets (1978) and St. Louis Hawks (1958).

The Orlando Magic have reached the Finals twice. Charlotte has never made a Finals appearance. Another possible reason for the lack of success might be due to having several smaller markets.

Fans in the South may have better days ahead due to the young talent available. Rookie Trae Young got off to a slow start when the season began. The Hawks drafted Luka Doncic and traded him on draft night for Young.

I still feel that Doncic is the better player but Atlanta also gained an additional first round pick this year because of that trade. I think that could turn out to be a great move in the long run.

Young has averaged 25.8 PPG, 9.0 APG and 4.4 RPG since the All-Star break and became only the eighth rookie in league history to log at least 35 points and 11 assists in a game during the Hawks’ 133–111 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The 20-year-olds claim to the rookie class’ highest honor has since gained traction, with Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Kuzma and Blake Griffin all declaring Young the victor after he dropped 32 points, 11 assists and a game-winner on the Philadelphia 76ers.

The current projected draft order will have Atlanta picking fifth and sixth overall.

Washington should have the seventh pick. Charlotte (12th), Miami (13th) and Orlando (15th) all have high draft picks. They all have the opportunity to acquire great players that can change the hopes of the franchise.

I cannot picture any of these teams being contenders next season but they can improve. I think we will see multiple teams from the Southeast make the playoffs in 2020.

Bad Bounces

By: TJ Hartnett news services

Turnovers are a part of any NBA game. It’s like strikeouts in a baseball game or having the punt the ball in football. They will happen. But how often they happen can make or break a season.

Only once this season have the Atlanta Hawks committed less than 10 turnovers in a game and they lost that game anyway.

On the other end of the spectrum, they have over 15 games with at least 20 turnovers, far and away the worst in the league. Some teams have a one or two players responsible for high turnover rates, but for the Hawks, it’s pretty much everyone. And they aren’t bad, they are historically awful.

All things in balance, since the Hawks have an excellent shot profile and they don’t take very many mid-range shots, those shots lead to an increased turnover rate, and defenses are adept at stopping Atlanta’s offense in that situation. It’s not entirely to blame for the awful turnover rate, but it’s a big area of concern.

The issue is that a team chocked full of rookies and other young players are being tasked with taking almost exclusively three points or layups. Trae Young and Kevin Huerter just don’t have the experience to handle the ball with regularity and prevent turnovers. Veteran players like Kent Bazemore, who isn’t a ball handler by trade, are out of their element when asked to do so.

Jeremy Lin turns the ball over nearly twenty percent of the time. Taurean Prince, Dewayne Dedmon and Alex Len all turn the ball over more than 15% of the time. Young and Huerter have growing to do, but the fact that the team’s seasoned players are having career-worst seasons is inexcusable.

The coaching staff has, somewhat inexplicably, not found the time to be concerned about the turnovers.

Granted, the correlation between turnovers and team success has lessened in the past decade and a half, but Coach Pierce is not working on fixing the problem. Instead, he has made it clear that he’d rather his team throw the ball around and grow without strict oversight. It’s understandable for the youth, but those veterans are being allowed free reign to turn the ball over with impunity.

The call is probably right. Trae Young will learn by doing, and he will stumble and he will turn the ball over; but he’s also a talent the likes of which haven’t been seen in Atlanta in a long time.

He’s an incredible passer and with each turnover he will figure out what not to do, and before we all blink, he’ll be one of the best in the league at making plays.

Ditto for Huerter and Jason Collins, who turn the ball over more than anyone would like but need to be given the freedom to explore what they can do with the ball in their hands and hone those skills, rather than be typecast into certain roles this early in their career.

The veterans on the team shouldn’t have that same luxury, but it’s certainly understandable if Pierce feels that he can’t chew out a veteran for the same turnover a rookie is making without losing a bit of credibility with the older guys.

Atlanta’s turnover problem is massive and is holding them back from making the next step (even amid improved overall play) in terms of offensive output, but there’s a method to Pierce’s madness.

The long-term development of players like Young, Huerter, and Collins will have speed bumps along the way; it’s just an unfortunate coincidence that the rest of the team seems to have followed suit in this specific area.

Young And Talented

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr. news services

The NBA season has recently started. The Atlanta Hawks finished the 2017-18 season 24-58 and earned the third pick in the draft. They drafted Luka Doncic from Spain then traded him to Dallas for the fifth pick, Trae Young.

In his lone season at Oklahoma, Young established himself as a multi-talented scoring threat. Young finished his freshman regular season leading the country in many statistics: assists (271), turnovers (161), points (848), points per game (27.4), assists per game (8.7), and assist percentage (48.6%).

The 811 points scored in the Big 12 would break the conference’s record for most points scored by a freshman player, which was previously held by Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley.

Young has received a lot of hype with some labeling him as the next Steph Curry. So far, he has done well, leading rookies with 19.8 points per game. His season high was 35 points against Cleveland. The Cavs also have a stud rookie point guard, Collin Sexton. The Hawks won the game 133-111 for the first win of the season.

The next game Atlanta played Dallas in the battle of traded draft picks. Kent Bazemore led the way with 32 points. Small forward Taurean Prince scored 24 and Young had 17. Doncic played well for the Mavs and had 21 points. Atlanta won 111-104.

Doncic is averaging 18.7 ppg, 6.2 rebounds per game and 4 assists per game. We are still early in the season so we cannot tell which team won the draft day trade. I felt Atlanta should have kept Doncic but time will tell which player will have the most success.

The last game was at home against Chicago. The Bulls won 97-85. Prince, Young and Bazemore combined for 15 of Atlanta’s 22 turnovers on a night when the Hawks shot 32.1 percent (27 of 84).

”Coming off two games where we played well (and won), it was a lesson in how you handle success,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. ”Sometimes, we were trying to do too much, and it was evident with our 22 turnovers. … I thought right from the start we were trying to hit home runs.”

So far Prince has been a pleasant surprise in his second year. He’s averaging 20.6 ppg and 5 apg. He forms a solid young tandem with Young.

DeAndre’ Bembrey is also a second year small forward and he’s playing well coming off the bench. He averages 9 points and 5.4 rpg.

The Hawks have some veterans on the team to help. Vince Carter is in his 20th season. He transitioned from being a great dunker into a three-point shooter.

The team is 2-3 and currently ninth in the East. Time will tell if they can sustain this current pace or be one of the worst teams in the league.

There is some excitement around the team, which has been lacking for quite some time. The stadium underwent a $213.5 million renovation and has been renamed State Farm Arena (formerly Philips Arena).

I know they aren’t going to the playoffs but this team is exciting to watch. Young is a potential Rookie of the Year candidate.

One Fell Swoop

By: TJ Hartnett news services

In a blockbuster move that stole headlines all across the United States of America, the Atlanta Hawks traded for Oklahoma City superstar and future NBA Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony.

Okay, that might have been disingenuous way to start this article but I just couldn’t resist.

Plus, it’s technically true. Melo was sent to the Hawks from the Thunder. It’s just there’s a caveat that Melo won’t be donning an Atlanta jersey anytime soon. Or ever, probably. Let’s back up a little bit, shall we?

It was pretty much the exact moment after the sound of the buzzer that ended the Finals faded away that the rumor mill started cooking up the notion that Dennis Schröder was not long for Atlanta.

Schröder himself stoked the flame by removing all mention of the Hawks from his social media (granted that has never meant anything relevant, but it was noteworthy at the time).  Turns out, those prognosticators were right and Schröder has left Phillips Arena, never to return again. Except as a visitor from the Midwest, of course.

The visiting team will have to be the Oklahoma City Thunder, where Schröder was shipped off to in exchange for Melo, one of the biggest NBA stars of the century, as well as a 2022 first round pick.

The Philadelphia 76ers contributed to the swap as well, sending Justin Anderson to Atlanta and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to Oklahoma City and receiving Mike Muscala, also from Atlanta.

To be fair, while this was a headline-grabbing trade due in large part to Anthony’s involvement, it doesn’t exactly come as a surprise for those paying attention. It seemed inevitable that the Hawks would make a move like this one.

And it’s a doozy. In a good way. They acquired some breathing room in their salary cap going forward and in turn gave themselves plenty of routes to play with their roster.

For the more immediate future, Muscala and Schröder will be missing from the roster, and that is not a benefit. They managed to keep the Hawks afloat last season, or as much as the Hawks could be kept afloat, anyway.

They have been Atlanta staples for the past several years and with good reason. They were consistent in their performances on the court, in the regular season and in bright spots during the playoffs.

But despite the hurt that their being traded will reign down on the team’s quality, let’s not forget that this is a rebuild and eggs must be broken before omelets can be made.

This was a trade for the future and that draft pick is half the battle. The other half is Justin Anderson. Anderson is a young player with potential that Philadelphia failed to unlock.

This was also a trade for financial flexibility so that the team can maneuver as needed in the months to come, having less than half of the $109 million they can spend committed for the 2018-2019 season.

That’s three goals: draft pick, young talent, cap space, accomplished in one fell swoop.

There’s no way to argue that this is a trade that made the Hawks better for the upcoming campaign, it did not. It made them worse.

But that’s okay, because they weren’t very good to begin with and this trade, while immediately detrimental to the team’s win-loss prospects, sets Atlanta up for the future in a big and bright way. It’s the kind of trade that needed to be made, and Atlanta pulled the trigger at seemingly the right time.

Oh, and Carmelo Anthony was immediately waived. Had to get that salary cap space. Sorry.

Who’s Next?

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr. news services

The NBA season is almost over and we already know the draft order for the upcoming 2018 draft.

One of the weaker divisions is the Southeast. Three of the teams (Atlanta, Orlando & Charlotte) are picking in the top eleven. Another southern team (Memphis) is in the Western Conference and they have a top five pick. Let’s take a look at the biggest needs for each of these teams.

Atlanta (24-58) had the worst record in the East so they can improve in several areas. The Hawks actually have three first round picks (No. 3, 19, 30) so they have a chance to vastly improve the talent on their roster. In the NBA you need a superstar player to win and sell tickets.

A big man would be the biggest need, either a power forward or center. The top option if available is Marvin Bagley III from Duke. He’s a 6’10 center/power forward that averaged 21 points per game, 11.1 rebounds per game and made 61.4% of his shot attempts. He is a great rebounder so he will get easy shots. He can help the team win now and give them a marquee franchise player for the first time since Dominique Wilkins.

I expect Atlanta to select a guard with the 19th pick. By that time all of the big names will be off the board. I believe someone like Anfernee Simons will still be available. He was the No. 7 player in the class of 2018. The 6’4 guard from Orlando played at IMG Academy this past season.

He will be able to go straight to the NBA through a loophole. He graduated from Edgewater High in his hometown and spent a post-grad year at IMG Academy. He has talent but he has not faced college competition, so he is a mystery.

I think Atlanta will trade the 30th pick so I’m not sure who they would select.

Memphis (22-60) had the second worst record in the league. They also are forced to play in the tough Western Conference even though geographically they don’t belong. Michigan State center Jaren Jackson Jr. might be a good fit. At 6’11 and 235 pounds, he needs to put on weight in the NBA.

He averaged 10.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 3 blocks per game. He is able to step outside as well as protect the rim. He is probably a couple years away from making a consistent contribution. If he can mature physically and mentally, he can become a perennial All-Star.

Orlando (25-57) was the second worst team in the East. The Magic have had some amazing players in their fairly short history like Shaq, Penny Hardaway, Tracy McGrady and Steve Francis. Hopefully, they can get another transcendent star with this pick. Duke center Wendell Carter would be the ideal selection.

Wendell was overshadowed by Bagley at Duke but he was not far behind him in terms of production. He averaged 13.5 PPG, 9.1 RPG and 2.1 BPG. He’s 6’10 and 250 lbs. so he has a frame ready for the NBA. I think he can become an elite player that the Magic can build around in the future.

Michael Jordan’s team (36-46) just finished another subpar season. The Hornets franchise has not had much success after they were resurrected as the Bobcats. Alabama guard Collin Sexton would be a great pick. He will be Kemba Walker’s successor at point guard.

Walker was explosive last year, averaging 19.2 PPG and 3.6 APG. He may only be 6’1 but he should be able to score at will at the next level.