Monday, June 20, 2011

Some Atlanta Hawks Thoughts Inspired By the 48th Pick

1) It's not flippant to say the Hawks should draft the best player, regardless of position, with the 48th pick of the 2011 NBA Draft. That's really all a team can do in that position. (Ignoring, for the moment, how a team got itself in that position.)

Looking at the most recent mock draft at DraftExpress, there are some potentially useful (potentially useful being defined, for the purposes of the 48th pick, as a likely bet to make the roster and a non-zero chance of becoming a rotation player within two seasons) players available with the 48th pick: David Lighty, Isaiah Thomas, Cory Joseph, and Andrew Goudelock.

2) The Hawks should consider buying the 32nd or 34th pick from Cleveland or Washington. There's relatively little chance the Hawks will get an immediate rotation player at that spot in the draft but it's still preferable to wasting roster spots on older, non-rotation players like Josh Powell or Etan Thomas, and, given the team's cap situation, they're not likely to have any really good options when it comes to filling out the bench.

3) All of my off-season speculation about the Hawks assumes the existence of a 2011-12 NBA season and that the Hawks bring back (or, at least make a serious attempt to being back) Jason Collins as a defensive specialist in the post, at least one of Damien Wilkins or Pape Sy as a defensive specialist on the wing, and give Magnum Rolle a chance to make the roster as an emergency backup in the frontcourt.

4) Though I assume the Hawks will explore the trade market for both Marvin Williams and Kirk Hinrich and would listen if, say, Cleveland or New Orleans inquired about making an immediate upgrade at the 2-guard, let's say the Hawks don't make any trades. What kind of players would they need to acquire to fill out a balanced roster?

In order of importance...
  • A backup two-guard who can either defend or spread the floor, preferably both
  • A legitimate backup power forward to fill the fourth spot in the post rotation
  • A third-string point guard
5) Barring a significant trade that fundamentally reshapes the roster, the Hawks should not consider, at any price, re-signing Jamal Crawford as he duplicates many of Joe Johnson's strengths and weaknesses while being less good than Johnson, takes possessions away from Josh Smith and Al Horford, of whom more must be demanded* if the Hawks are going to improve, and takes minutes away from Jeff Teague (younger, possibly better) and Kirk Hinrich (a better complement to Teague, to Johnson, and to Smith and Horford should the Hawks choose to start playing through them in the post more often).

The Hawks got all they could have expected, if not more, from Crawford over the past two seasons but it's time to move on.

*And, if more is demanded and Smith or Horford is found wanting, the Hawks must then explore trading one or both as means to make the team better.


Adam Malka said...

Bret -

Does this mean, so long as the roster remains largely intact, that you'd prioritize adding a 3rd string point guard over a backup small forward/wing? Put another way, are you comfortable enough with a Marvin Williams/Damien Wilkins duo at the 3 that you'd rather see the team add two more guards before addressing the offensive shortcomings of that position?

Bret LaGree said...

Adam --

Improving the production at the small forward position is the greatest opportunity this team has. Instead of taking that opportunity, I expect the Hawks to staff the position with Williams, Wilkins and Sy. If all three of those guys are around, it'd be tough to use another roster spot on a big and/or poor shooting wing.

Or, Joe Johnson and Josh Smith will both play more at the three and that will necessitate adding at least one guard and a frontcourt rotation player.

Also, the Hawks finished the playoffs without a healthy point guard. I think a third-string, emergency point guard is, if not essential, at least a prudent use of a roster spot.