The 2014 NBA Draft will take place on Thursday, June 26. The Eastern Conference reeked like rotten eggs this past seaso,n and the Atlanta Hawks made the playoffs with a record of 38-44. The awfulness that is the Eastern Conference is a separate discussion.
The Hawks have one first-round pick (15th overall) and one pick in the second round (43rd overall). Who should the Hawks select with those picks? Keep in mind that even if it would be smart for the Hawks to select Jabari Parker (Duke), Joel Embiid (Kansas) or Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), that will never happen unless the Hawks trade way up in the draft. These projections are based on the Hawks staying pat at 15 and 43.
Two areas of need for the Hawks are small forward and center. Some say point guard as well, but Jeff Teague signed a four-year, $32 million contract (all guaranteed) and is set to make $8 million each of the next three seasons. In addition, Shelvin Mack did a nice job backing up Teague last season. I’m not sure point guard is a huge position of need for the Hawks, but adding some depth wouldn’t be a terrible idea.
It would make a lot of sense for the Hawks to select either Doug McDermott out of Creighton or Rodney Hood out of Duke with their first-round pick.
McDermott, the winner of last season’s John R. Wooden Award, is a 6-foot-9 small forward. He played four years in college and is the fifth-leading scorer in NCAA history. He has an outstanding feel for the game and is such a fantastic shooter you almost believe he could shoot from the parking lot. McDermott can spread the floor, and even though everyone recognizes his elite shooting ability, he can pass too. No one will pretend that McDermott will ever be an elite defender in the NBA, but his offensive prowess outweighs whatever defensive liability he’ll be at the next level. Plus, it’s not like a lot of NBA teams play a ton of defense anyway.
Hood is a 6-foot-8 small forward who can shoot from the outside and provides a lot of length. Some scouts say Hood will be a lottery pick, but given the disappearing act he pulled in the NCAA tournament it is possible he slides to Atlanta at 15. Hood does need to focus on improving his strength and defense, but he is an efficient scorer and is one of the better shooters in the draft. Atlanta would probably be getting real value if they select Hood at 15.
If the Hawks want to select a point guard, they should go with Elfrid Payton out of Louisiana-Lafayette. Payton is a 6-foot-3 point guard who is quick with a capital Q. He also brings length and athleticism to the table. His shot does need some work (it was improved towards the end of the season), but the NBA is moving towards more athletic point guards (i.e. Russell Westbrook) and Payton could excel at the next level.
Who the Hawks select in the first round will dictate what they do in the second round. If they select a small forward (like they should) in the first round, then adding depth at point guard or center would be a smart move in Round 2. Most likely they take a small forward in the first round and a center in the second.
The Hawks’ lack of depth at center was highlighted when Al Horford was injured last season. Atlanta may look have insurance at the position going into next season. They could potentially select another Florida Gator, Patric Young. Young, who is a 6-foot-10, 249-pound PF/C, played four years at Florida. In those four years, Young played in every game and was instrumental to the Gators’ success. He does not really have the perimeter skills to play PF in the NBA, but that’s fine because the Hawks would want him to play center. His chiseled frame and talent should allow him to be productive as a center in the NBA.