Now the work begins.
After months of speculation about where the Hawks might select in the NBA draft, the order is set. Now the speculation can begin about who the Hawks might select.
Following Tuesday’s draft lottery, the Hawks know they will start with five picks — two in the first round at No. 8 and 10 and three in the second round at No. 35, 41 and 44.
General manager Travis Schlenk again left open the very real possibility that the Hawks will make a move with so many assets — including the valuable first-round picks.
“It opens a lot of doors for us with five picks,” Schlenk said. “We can package to try to move up. If there is a team excited (about a player) maybe move back and pick up an asset. It gives us a lot of options.”
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Schlenk was asked whether the two first-round picks afforded him a greater ability to move up. He referenced last year’s draft-day trade that had the Hawks select Luka Donic at No. 3 and trade him to the Mavericks, who selected Trae Young at No. 5. The Hawks got this year’s extra first-round pick in the deal.
“It all depends,” he said. “There might be a guy there that a team really loves and they think they can get if they move back, and they pick up an extra asset. Like our situation last year, we felt good about six guys, so moving back a couple spots didn’t really scare us as much. We knew we’d still get a guy we liked.”
Hawks management will remain in Chicago for the draft combine. While many of the top prospects won’t work out or participate in games, the team will have an opportunity to interview potential picks one-on-one. Schlenk said those opportunities are valuable.
Once back in Atlanta, the Hawks will resume player workouts next week. They have a better idea who might, and who might not, be willing to participate in the workouts. They have already held eight workouts with mostly late second round and G League-caliber players. In addition to all that information and in-season scouting reports, the Hawks will play a guessing game of their own.
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“Now that we know who is picking where, we can project what type of player they might need, who they might like, just figure it all out,” Schlenk said. “The farther back you are, it makes it harder to figure out who is going to be there.”
The draft picks are the next step in the ongoing rebuild. After two visits in the draft lottery, they would prefer not to be back. Last season the Hawks added to their young core, which included 2017 first-round pick John Collins, with three 2018 first-round picks in Young, Kevin Huerter and Omari Spellman.
Huerter attended the draft lottery and said he was eager to take the next step with additional players.
“We are looking to build on the season we had last year, really from mid-year to the end of the year,” Huerter said. “The offense really picked up. We started to gel a little better as a team. I think there is a lot of excitement within the organization and outside the organization in Atlanta. Hopefully, we can add these draft picks and continue to grow.”
Schlenk has shown he has an eye for talent. Collins, a No. 19 pick, is a candidate for Most Improved Player. Young is a candidate for Rookie of the Year. Huerter, also a No. 19 pick, was a starter by midseason.
He approaches the draft June 20 armed. It’s time for the work to pay off again.
“I think we are making progress,” principal owner Tony Ressler said after the lottery. “I think we are moving in the right direction. Whether we are right on the cusp or not, I think we are going to find out after June 20.
“Listen, our job is to keep making progress and it’s to keep moving forward, and we think we are doing it the right way. We think we are building foundation. If we can’t make two top-10 picks work for us, it’s our fault. Our job is to make them work, and I think we will.”
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