Off-season Update Part 1: The Draft

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Left to right; Kevin Huerter, Trae Young, Omari Spellman. (Getty Images)

Year one of Atlanta’s rebuilding project went about as well as anybody would have expected, obtaining a high lottery pick, while getting more minutes to some players who figure to play a role in the Hawk’s future, such as John Collins and Taurean Prince. This off-season, so far, has been successful in following the model of the modern rebuild, shedding salary and assets to acquire future draft picks and players on team-friendly contracts. As of July 29, the Hawks have added two first round picks, from the Thunder and the Mavericks, two veterans, and a multitude of young talent.

Trae Young on Draft Day (Getty Images)

Having obtained first round picks from the Rockets and Timberwolves, along with the number three overall pick from the draft lottery the Hawks had plenty of resources to start to go in the direction GM Travis Schlenk had planned. That direction was clearly offense. After DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley were taken off the board, the Hawks picked Slovenian star Luka Dončiç, only to trade him with the Mavericks for Trae Young out of Oklahoma and a top five protected first round pick in 2019. While Schlenk has not stated that he believes Young is the superior player, he stated that “It certainly wasn’t clear-cut, but getting the asset and we’re extremely excited about Trae, have been all year long, so I think it was a combination of both things.” Trae Young is a young player with a high offensive upside, leading the NCAA in points and assists per game with 27.4 and 8.7 respectively. However, there are certainly some concerns over his defensive abilities, only accumulating a 0.5 defensive box plus/minus and lack of size at 6’ 2” and 180 pounds. Young was signed to a twoyear rookie scale deal worth $11.6 million.

Kevin Huerter at Maryland (Getty Images)

The Hawks only had one lottery pick, but through previous trades with the Timberwolves and the Rockets they were able to obtain two lower first round picks. With the nineteenth pick the Hawks selected Kevin Huerter from Maryland, a 6’ 7” wing that has a pure shooting stroke (41.7 % from three in 2017), but like Young he is not considered a high-level defender, only recording a 102.9 defensive rating in 2017 (100 is average). Huerter was signed to a 2 year $4.89 million-dollar deal.

With the last pick in the first round the Hawks selected forward Omari Spellman, a national champion from Villanova. Spellman excels as a shooter, which benefits him as he is undersized at 6’9”. However, for his size Spellman is an excellent shot-blocker and rebounder averaging 1.5 blocks and 8.0 rebounds per game in college. Spellman is 21, so he is older than both other first round picks, so he projects as a high floor low ceiling player going forward. His rookie deal is for two years and $3.52 million. The Hawks sole second round pick was used on Devonte’ Graham out of Kansas, who was promptly traded to Charlotte for two future second round picks. Upcoming will be a summary of the Hawks moves in free agency and offseason trades.

Omari Spellman cuts down the nets after winning the NCAA title with Villanova (Getty Images)