Hawks must attach assets if trading top pick is their move

Editors note: With the Hawks holding the No. 1 pick in the coming NBA draft, there are plenty of opinions on what the team should do with the selection. Each week before the draft June 26, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will present one opinion. This week: Michael Scotto from HoopsHype.

When the Hawks landed the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft Sunday, they received an opportunity to change the direction of the franchise. They have added flexibility as to how they can build a championship-caliber team.

Some draft experts and NBA reporters have different ideas about how the Hawks could do that. In a coming episode of the Hawks Report podcast presented by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, HoopsHype’s senior NBA reporter Michael Scotto broke down what he has learned while in Chicago for the NBA Draft Combine.

Many believe that this year’s draft class does not have the cachet that last year’s and next year’s classes boast. However, the Hawks could find a solid role player to contribute. French center Alexandre Sarr has emerged as a favorite to be the No. 1 pick, though experts still have not reached a consensus on the top of the draft.

“I think that’s what’s going to make it an exciting draft, not only for the picks, but I think in terms of trade talks,” Scotto said in the podcast episode set to go live Monday. “Because the way it’s been explained to me by some executives and scouts is in this draft in particular, if there is a player that you want, you can absolutely go get them on the trade market. And on the flip side, if you’re a team that has a higher pick, such as Atlanta, it may be a little tougher to move that pick unless you’re coupling it with something else, (like) another asset.”

The Hawks have several assets that they could consider attaching to the No. 1 pick. Should they decide to stand pat, they could find a few players at the top of the draft that have skill sets that could address some of the team’s needs.

General manager Landry Fields, assistant general manager Kyle Korver and coach Quin Snyder were spotted in France watching wing Zaccharie Risacher.

“Let’s say you go with either Trae (Young) or Dejounte (Murray) and you move one or the other, you have a guard, at least, (and) you need a wing player and you need a big,” Scotto said. “Jalen Johnson would be your (power forward) and then Risacher at (small forward). That’s how I’ve always felt like teams build. You’ve got a primary ballhandler. You’ve got a wing scorer, and you’ve got to get a big man that you feel can get your buckets on offense.”

Whatever direction the Hawks decide to go in, they have plenty of work ahead of them to make the right decisions. Those choices they make June 26 will have some implications as the Hawks head deeper in the offseason.

“There is no set direction for them,” Scotto said. “What I would say, is that the clear, assumed direction I would say around the league is that Dejounte Murray or Trae Young probably won’t be there next year. That is the widespread belief around the league, and (I) certainly touched on that a little bit in my post-lottery story on HoopsHype.

“But you know, you brought up a great point about Kobe Bufkin, and I think he gets forgotten a little bit, but the Hawks are extremely high on him. And he didn’t get a chance to play that much last year, and if you’re going to get him on the court, you’ve got to move one of those guys and carve out that space.

“Time will tell which teams are interested on, whether it’s Dejounte Murray or Trae Young. But they’ve got to figure that out sooner than later. Because now you hear the chatter about Darius Garland, is it going to be Donovan Mitchell, like one of those two guys in Cleveland won’t be there. So that adds to the guard market if you’re a team looking to make a move. And so you’ve got to factor all this in if you’re the Atlanta Hawks, and they’ve got other stuff to figure out – Saddiq Bey’s restricted free agency. So there are plenty items on the docket for Atlanta to figure out and shape their direction.”