Hawks weighing team ‘DNA’ with draft prospects

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

When the Hawks make their NBA draft selection Thursday night they look to pick the best available player. They also will strongly consider who matches what team general manager Landry Fields called “Hawks DNA.”

The team currently holds picks No. 15 in the first round of the draft and No. 46 overall in the second. The Hawks remain open to many possibilities ahead of them, including making draft-night deals to move up.

Despite their receptiveness to negotiating a deal for a higher pick, the Hawks feel comfortable with where they sit.

Regardless of what they do, the Hawks aim to pick a player who will fit long-term into what they’re building.

“There’s things that we value in players that for us is Hawks DNA,” Fields said. “And that means that we’re going to pass on guys that we think are good, talented players (but) they’re just not meant to be in this building, for a variety of reasons. You can’t go out there and just throw it out there. Like it all has to connect, it all has to be part of the system that we hope puts us in the best position to win a championship.”

The team has not publicly defined what “Hawks DNA” entails, but Snyder has pointed to a common characteristic that ties his coaching staff together. Snyder said the “Thin Red Line” that runs throughout his coaching staff was selflessness. It was important to him that his staff embodies it because he would ask the same of the players.

The Hawks have a lot of depth in a number of positions, particularly on the wing. So, the team’s draft pick likely won’t see a lot of playing time next season. There will be some expected sacrifice on their part.

In January, Fields said that “there was a certain type of ‘Hawk’” that they’ve looked at as they fill out their roster.

“Like, guys, when it comes from their mind to their bodies to their heart, like those are the three factors, and you can kind of take those down and get much more granular, but there is a certain ‘Hawksness’ to that those guys have that they’re going to continue to grow in as well,” Fields said in January.

“So, we want to surround them, of course, with complementary skill sets, but also that DNA that we’re trying to find, so not giving you too much detail looking for. It is something where it’s part of the skill set and how it functions on a court, but also just that type of person that we have in our building day in and day out.

Since May, the Hawks have welcomed over 100 players, some of whom have not been announced publicly, to the team’s practice facility for pre-draft workouts. Though the Hawks have gotten the chance to evaluate these players up close over the past few weeks, Fields said that the team’s assessments on them began earlier.

Ahead of the NBA draft, Fields described the team’s thought process for how they would go about selecting a player that embodied the team’s DNA.

“Well, the way we operate and the way our basketball team runs, we value guys that have basketball feel, that have basketball IQ,” he said. “Shooting is always at a premium. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t take a guy that can’t shoot, it’s just more about, like, for how we want to play with the spacing with our current roster of guys with Trae (Young), Dejounte (Murray).

“And in the light we need guys that can space the floor. So, that’s always going to be a benefit to us. But when you’re weighing a number of different factors for guys, yeah, ‘this guy might not be an elite shooter, but he’s an elite defender.’ And defensively, we still need to improve there. So maybe there’s some upside with that. So, that’s part of the whole process. And honestly, it’s the fun of it. It’s putting the puzzle together.”