Howard Smith – USA Today
The Atlanta Hawks enter the 2013-14 season with only three players under contract and will in turn look to the NBA draft and free agency in hopes of reshaping what’s been widely considered a stagnant organization.
So with the draft set to kick off on June 27, it’s never too early for the speculation mill to start churning – especially when you’re ESPN’s resident clairvoyant Chad Ford. Turns out he feels Rudy Gobert and Jamaal Franklin would be in the Hawks’ best interest.
Per Chad Ford | ESPN Insider:
17. Rudy Gobert, Analysis:
Roy Hibbert’s stellar performance in the NBA Eastern Conference finals helps a player such as Gobert. Yes, Gobert will be drafted largely on sheer size. He doesn’t have a great motor yet nor does he know what he’s doing. But you can’t teach 7-foot-2. With the Hawks in the process of clearing the deck in Atlanta, I’m not sure they can pass on him. However, he’s a major work in progress.
18. Jamaal Franklin, Analysis:
Franklin is still hobbling around on a bad ankle. He wasn’t able to work out for a collection of NBA GM’s in Las Vegas this weekend and was relegated to shooting only jumpers. However, Franklin showed he hasn’t been just laying around for the past month. His jumper is improve considerably. At 18, he becomes a talent grab for the Hawks. His upside is significant.
Obviously you should take these selections with a grain of salt, as it’s just one man’s thoughts and the draft has proven to be anything but an exact science.
That said, I found it very interesting that he would have the Hawks taking Gobert ahead of polished prospects like Mason Plumlee (20), Kelly Olynyk (21), Gorgui Dieng (22) and Jeff Withey (26).
Yes, Gobert has lottery-worthy upside, but for a team that’s lacked a starting-caliber center to place alongside Al Horford for half a decade now, it’s hard to see them passing up on proven talents that could help Horford flourish in his natural position.