1st Round, 15th Overall- Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State (B+)
With Mike Scott an impending free agent and Al Horford injured seemingly every season, the Atlanta Hawks needed to shore up their big man depth and did so by selecting Adreian Payne with the 15th pick in the 2014 draft. Payne is a versatile stretch four with range out to the NBA three-pointer whose athleticism makes him a solid rebounder and defender as well. Payne was one of the key cogs on the Michigan State team that made it to the Elite Eight this season and is a high-character selection for the Hawks. While Payne will come off the bench behind Horford and Paul Millsap, he figures to be a high-energy guy capable of spelling either player due to foul trouble or injury.
2nd Round, 43rd Overall- Walter Tavares, C, Spain (B)
Walter Tavares was one of the more intriguing prospects in this draft class as a massive 7-foot-3 center from Spain who profiles as a tremendous shot-blocker. Tavares is still very raw and has a long way to go before becoming a regular contributor in the NBA, but the raw physical measurables were simply too much for Atlanta to pass up. Although Tavares may not come over for a few seasons, the Hawks have had no problem taking European stashes in the past, including Dennis Schroeder and Lucas Nogueira just last season. Tavares will have to battle the stigma of injury and foot speed that comes with prospects of his size, but if he can hone his skills for a few seasons, he could become a defensive stalwart in the NBA.
2nd Round, 48th Overall- Lamar Patterson, SG, Pittsburgh (C)
Lamar Patterson was arguably Pittsburgh’s best player last season, averaging over 17 points per game and providing solid defense on the perimeter. While Patterson doesn’t possess elite athleticism like many of the other two guards taken in this draft, he’s incredibly savvy on the court and has tremendous court vision for someone who’s not a point guard. Patterson’s a capable outside shooter which will fit in with the three-point happy Hawks, and he could bring an aspect that not many of Atlanta’s wings are familiar with — being able to stay in front of his man.
All in all the Hawks did a solid job addressing some of their needs and taking the best players available when they selected. Although Payne may be the only immediate contributor, Tavares is a high-potential prospect and Patterson could serve as a capable role player. Picking where they were in the draft, this is a potentially nice haul for Atlanta.
Aggregate Grade- B+