With seven players from last season’s roster about to hit the free-agent market, the Hawks have plenty of needs going into Thursday’s NBA draft. They are well-armed with four selections (Nos. 17, 18, 47 and 50). The Hawks’ biggest needs, before they venture on the open market with more than $33 million, are center and shooting guard.
General manager Danny Ferry says need is not the biggest factor in determining how players are selected in the draft. “Fit to your program, talent level, what your needs are, at the end of the day all balance to come out and put you in the right position to make a decision,” Ferry said.
Still, here is a look at six players the Hawks could take with their scheduled first-round selections.
Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
The 7-footer may not be available (fellow 7-footer Steven Adams of Pittsburgh could be), but the 22-year-old junior can work around the basket and plays the pick-and-roll. He averaged 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds last season. His notable accolades include All-American first team and West Coast Conference Player of the Year.
Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
At 6-11, he was a defensive presence in helping the Cardinals to the national championship last season. The 23-year-old junior averaged nearly as many rebounds (9.4) as points (9.8) last season. He was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. He has a 7-4 wingspan and a proficient shot blocker and weakside defender.
Mason Plumlee, Duke
The 6-10 senior could be the most polished of the centers available to the Hawks, at 23 years old. He averaged 17.1 points and 10.0 rebounds last season. He showed improvement over all four seasons at Duke. He can run the floor, works the pick-and-roll well and would bring a blue-collar work ethic.
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
The 6-5 all-around guard was unavailable for much of the workout season with an ankle injury. The 21-year-old junior averaged 17.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists last season and led the Aztecs in scoring, assists, rebounds and steals per game.
He was the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year as a sophomore.
Allen Crabbe, California
At 6-6, he averaged 18.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists last season. The 21-year-old junior is a catch-and-shoot threat with NBA 3-point range. He has been praised for his stellar form. He was the Pac-12 Player of the Year. He has the potential to be a solid defender with a 6-11 wingspan.
Sergey Karasev, Russia
The 19-year-old may be considered more of a swingman at 6-7. There is no doubt he can shoot. He averaged 18.7 points playing for Triumph Moscow. He was on the Russian Olympic team and is credited with a good basketball IQ and passing ability.