Hawks hope for contributor with first-round pick

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Hawks hope for contributor with first-round pick

WITH THE 15TH PICK …

A look at the past 10 players selected with the 15th pick in the NBA draft:

2013: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

2012: Maurice Harkless, 76ers

2011: Kawhi Leonard, Pacers

2010: Larry Sanders, Bucks

2009: Austin Daye, Pistons

2008: Robin Lopez, Trail Blazers

2007: Rodney Stuckey, Pistons

2006: Cedric Simmons, Pelicans

2005: Antoine Wright, Nets

2004: Al Jefferson, Celtics

HAWKS AT 15

Only twice have the Hawks held the 15th overall pick in an NBA draft. Their picks were:

1991: Anthony Avent

1993: Doug Edwards

Danny Ferry is not giving away company secrets.

Ask the Hawks general manager what player the team has targeted in the coming NBA draft, and he offers a mere smile. That’s as close to inside information that an outsider is going to get.

Ferry did say he hopes the Hawks will get a contributor with their scheduled first-round pick, No. 15 overall, in Thursday night’s draft. The Hawks also hold a second-round pick, No. 43 overall.

“We are certainly hopeful there is a guy who can be part of what we do long-term available then,” Ferry said.

In his first draft, with limited preparation time, Ferry selected John Jenkins and Mike Scott in 2012. Both were established collegiate players, as Jenkins played three seasons at Vanderbilt and Scott was a five-year player at Virginia. In his second draft, Ferry used two first-round picks to obtain international prospects 20-year-old Lucas Nogueira and 19-year-old Dennis Schroder. The Hawks selected Bucknell senior Mike Muscala in the second round.

Two years, two directions. Just what the Hawks do, in this Ferry’s third draft, remains to be seen.

The insight Ferry will give into the Hawks’ draft process is three organizational buzzwords — competitor, unselfish and talented. Whether the Hawks draft for need or the best available player, the goal is to land a player who “can fit in how we want to play.”

Under first-year coach Mike Budenholzer, the Hawks installed a system with an offensive game built on pace, space and ball movement and an emphasis on a simple defensive scheme. Long, athletic players who can defend would be the ideal fit and fulfill a current need, especially at small forward.

This draft is considered by many to be talent-rich and deep with a number of NBA-ready prospects at the top. The Hawks have the first pick following the 14 lottery selections. While they may not get an immediate starter they could add depth, as a number of quality prospects will be on the board at their selection.

There is precedent to getting a star player with the 15th overall selection. Three years ago, Kawhi Leonard was taken with the pick by Indiana and traded to San Antonio. The young star in the making was named the NBA finals MVP this month in helping the Spurs to the championship. In 2004, Al Jefferson was taken by Boston at No. 15. He was All-NBA third-team following last season, as he became the cornerstone of the Hornets organization following stints with the Celtics, Timberwolves and Jazz.

Teams can miss with such a mid-first round pick. New Orleans took Cedric Simmons 15th overall in 2006. He played just 75 NBA games with four different teams, did a stint in the NBA Development League and now plays in Turkey.

A draft-night trade remains a possibility, especially with nine teams entering the draft without a first-round pick this year. Ferry said such dealings are more likely to occur during the draft when teams zero in on players that are available. The Hawks traded up to get Nogueira last year after he was selected by Boston with the 16th overall pick.

Ferry mentioned on several occasions at his season-ending news conference that the Hawks would take the appropriate “risks” in continuing to build a roster in the draft and free agency.

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