The Hawks had their sights set on De’Andre Hunter and Bruno Fernando in the NBA draft.
Sure, the fact that the team traded up to select the players was a prime indication that each was high on the draft board.
“We’ve spent a lot of time that last several years collecting (draft) picks through different trades,” Hawks general manger Travis Schlenk said Sunday in a long-awaited introductory press conference for two of the three draftees. “This year there were some guys we targeted and we went out to get them.”
The Hawks traded, in part, the No. 10, 17 and 35 picks to the Pelicans to select Hunter at No. 4 out of Virginia. They traded the No. 57 pick and two future second-round picks to the 76ers to select Fernando at No. 34 out of Maryland.
Here is another reason that goes beyond the obvious and post-draft management speak that the Hawks got players they coveted. Each sat down with head coach Lloyd Pierce for extensive film study during their pre-draft workouts. The Hawks had player-specific clips cued and ready for dissection.
“I watched a lot of film,” Hunter said of his one and only workout with an NBA team. “It was a little weird to me. That was my first workout so I thought they do this on every team. It was different. … He was quizzing me when I worked out. Did I know the plays? I felt like I did.”
Hunter said he was shown clips of Virginia in the national championship winning game and asked to break down several plays. He was also shown clips from Hawks games and quizzed about how they would handle a specific situation. He called it a “cool experience.”
Fernando said he was put through a similar session. He was asked to go other both plays from his games at Maryland and others from the Hawks. The film study lasted nearly a half hour.
“We watched a couple clips of me at Maryland, a couple specific games,” Fernando said. “ … And then we watched a couple clips of the Atlanta Hawks and learn how they play and he was telling me stuff like if I was on the team how would I guard that player, how would I guard that ball screen, different situations like that.”
The Hawks held more than 20 pre-draft workouts, each with about six players. They didn’t create player specific film for each of the 120 or so players that put through testing before the draft. When the workouts went above and beyond the on-court shooting, dribbling and passing drills, the Hawks were interested in more detailed information.
Fernando worked out for the Hawks several times. They had their eye on him last year when he tested the draft waters but decided to return to school. He targeted the Hawks this year when he elected to enter and remain in the draft pool.
“I always had a great feeling about them,” Fernando said. “Last year, my freshman year, when I first tested the waters I did two workouts and Atlanta was my first one. I just felt great, like I just had a great workout in Atlanta. Then coming back for my sophomore year, I definitely wanted to have another workout in Atlanta and do the best I can. I had an amazing workout in Atlanta. I’m just happy things worked out the way they did.”
Hunter and Fernando join the previously introduced Cam Reddish, taken with the No. 10 pick out of Duke, as this year’s draft class. Reddish could not go through a physical workout with the Hawks as he recovered from core muscle (groin) surgery but he did come to Atlanta for an interview and meeting session. The rehab has kept him out of the Las Vegas Summer League.
Hunter and Fernando had to wait for their formal introductions until the pending trades that brought them to Atlanta were completed following the league’s moratorium period. They made their summer league debuts on Sunday. Each played without the benefit of a full practice as they were only allowed to do drill work with the Hawks until the deals were finalized. Hunter finished with six points and Fernando finished with five points.
There is much to learn. Chances are there is more film work — a lot more film work — in their future.
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