The Atlanta Hawks laid out all their cards on Thursday night and received a huge investment in return. With six picks in the draft, Travis Schlenk could have gone in a different direction on how he wanted the franchise to take shape. By the end of the night, Hawks fans knew where the future of this team was heading.
The Hawks made several trades leading up to draft time. The day before, the Hawks traded their 44th pick to the Miami Heat for their 2024 second round pick and cash. Earlier the next day, they traded their 41st pick to the Golden State Warriors for their 2024 second pick and cash. From that point on, the Hawks had the eighth, 10th, 17th and 35th picks in the draft. Until something big happened.
It was rumored that the Hawks were trying to trade up to take Virginia’s DeAndre Hunter, which means they would have to give up more of their picks. About an hour before the draft, it was announced the Hawks and New Orleans Pelicans made a trade. The Pelicans received the eighth, 17th and 35th picks while the Hawks received the fourth pick, 57th pick, a future second round pick and Solomon Hill. By the time the draft started, the Hawks only had three picks, exactly what Schlenk wanted.
The rumors were accurate to start, because the Hawks selected Hunter with the fourth pick. It’s still technically the Los Angeles Lakers‘ pick since the Anthony Davis trade won’t be completed until July 6. Hunter is a solid 3-and-D prospect that will help the Hawks immediately on the defensive side of the ball. He can guard positions 1-4, which gives the team some flexibility on defensive assignments. To make things even better, Hunter was a good perimeter shooter at Virginia, knocking down 43 percent of his threes. This was the player the Hawks had their eyes on for a while. They did what they had to do to get him.
Things got better for the Hawks at pick No. 10 when they selected Cam Reddish out of Duke University. Reddish was a player that was rumored to be linked to the Hawks months before the draft. His offensive ability made him an intriguing prospect and somebody the Hawks could plug in to take the pressure off of Trae Young.
He also has defensive potential with his length and size. It was said many teams were skeptical about Reddish after his low shooting percentages and his passion for the game. With Hunter already the safe pick for the Hawks, it wasn’t crazy for the Hawks to take a bet on Reddish.
Later in the night, the Hawks traded received the 34th pick from the Philadelphia 76ers for the 57th pick and second round picks. With the 34th pick, the Hawks selected Bruno Fernando. Fernando was a player that was at one point projected to be a lottery pick, so this may have been a steal for Atlanta. His ability to score in the paint and shoot from the perimeter for a center is what the Hawks need.
Their offense thrived with centers like Dewayne Dedmon and Alex Len because of their versatility. Fernando can come right in on the team and make an impact, especially if the Hawks don’t decide to re-sign Dedmon.
Travis Schlenk has once again put this team in position to be a solid young team for years to come. He’s also drafted players that can compliment Young and his ability on the floor. Absorbing expiring contracts has been a thing of Schlenk’s since he arrived in Atlanta and the Hawks should have enough cap space for two max free agents next season. This was definitely a win for the team, and you could argue that they had the best draft next to the Pelicans. The future is looking bright for the Hawks.
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