The time had finally come. After weeks of waiting, Atlanta Hawks fans were ready to figure out where their picks landed in the upcoming draft.
With the potential of having two top-10 picks, this could change the entire landscape of the organization and gives fans something to be excited for in the future.
This wasn’t just about the chance of getting the No. 1 pick, it was bigger than that. It was about having the chance to land a generational talent in Zion Williamson. That’s what Hawks fans wanted all season, and that’s what they expressed at the draft lottery party in the State Farm Arena.
Zion jerseys filled some of the seats. Chants of “We want Zion” were heard around the building. This was something fans felt they deserved, and they had a good reason to feel so.
This season the Hawks played by the rules. They didn’t tank, they didn’t sit players on purpose. They showed a sense of excitement around the league, something a young team at the bottom the league hasn’t shown in years. Trae Young and John Collins lifted the team to relevancy in one season, and outsiders started to recognize what was going on in Atlanta. They started to hop on the “Zion to the Hawks” bandwagon as well.
With what seemed like the entire NBA community backing the Hawks, you would think the basketball Gods would give everyone what they wanted.
And then the worst happened…
Atlanta sports is known for having bad luck (if you know, you know). When it was announced the Hawks received the eighth and 10thpicks in the draft, excitement in the arena turned to gloom. Why? Because fans are tired of the thought of mediocrity.
They’re tired of always receiving the worst possible outcome. And this time, it seemed like it couldn’t get any worse. The Hawks were one number away from winning the lottery.
The Hawks were one number off from winning the lottery. The winning numbers were 7, 4, 12, 13.
The Hawks had 3, 7, 12, 13.
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) May 15, 2019
At some point you have to understand why most people were disappointed, but what they failed to realize is that it wasn’t the end of the world.
Yes, the thought of not having Zion in their hands is sad, but it was time to move to plan B. Plan B isn’t bad, and it may be better than any other plan the seven teams ahead of them in the draft have.
The Hawks still have TWO draft picks in the top-10, something no other team has in this draft. They could go many different directions with this.
Atlanta could use those two draft picks to continue building this young nucleus. They could trade either pick, and still draft the prospect of their liking. The Hawks could trade both of their picks to move up in the draft. There’s one thing we found out about Travis Schlenk last year – if he likes a player, he’s going to do what it takes to get him.
After the third pick, it’s said that the remaining players in the draft pool aren’t “franchise changers”, but don’t the Hawks already have that in Young?
People also forget that the Hawks have cap space to work with. Zion is a fun player, but he won’t help you win instantly. Earlier in the season, I wrote about how the Hawks deserved Zion, but didn’t need him.
From a basketball perspective, it was hard to envision how that would work in Atlanta. A big free agent this offseason could help this team, and with the way the Hawks played this year some players could actually consider signing.
Living in the moment
As fans of anything, we like to live in the moment. We don’t think what could be far down the line, but only what’s in front of us in that time. Let’s keep it real for a minute: the Hawks didn’t get the No. 1 and No. 9 pick.
They’re probably not going to get Zion. The player they draft probably won’t be a franchise changer. But let’s look at the bigger picture.
The Hawks were still able to keep the Mavs pick. Atlanta has five total picks in the draft. They have plenty of cap space to use this summer and into the future. They have Trae Young, one the league’s most exciting young players on the rise.
Regardless of where those picks landed, this looks like a franchise that is on the verge of a quick turn around. So in hindsight, the Hawks may have lost the lottery, but they didn’t lose their future.
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