Nine years, five months and 24 days ago I went to a basketball game in Phillips Arena where the Atlanta Hawks hosted the Denver Nuggets. (*Note: I had to look up the date of the game and see how long ago it was. I don’t know that info off the top of my head)
That was the first ever NBA game I went to, and as a result it got me following the NBA and more specifically, the Atlanta Hawks. Ever since then, from the surface, it looks like I have been a Hawks fan at a good time. In my first nine years of fandom, we made the playoffs every single year. However, when I realized that we only advanced past the second round one of those times, which resulted in the Cavs sweeping us in the conference finals, things looked a little rougher.
Last night was the first time in all my years as a Hawks fan, that I felt like there could be a semblance of hope. We had the No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft and that player could be a franchise-altering player and lead the city of Atlanta to its first NBA title. However, I put too much faith in our front office.
Over my years, there have been many Hawks front office moves that I have disagreed with. While over time I’ve come to like some of them more, but for the most part I still dislike much of what our front office has done. Trading Joe Johnson, who had made six consecutive all-star games at the time, in a salary dump move for a single first round pick was bad. The trade looks especially bad because the Celtics got a whole lot more for an aging trio of KG, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry the next year. It stung even more when we got the Nets 2015 pick (15th overall) and the Celtics got the 2016-18 picks (3, 1, and 8 overall). Oh, and we didn’t even draft a player with that pick. Instead, we traded it for Tim Hardaway Jr, who we would only have for two years where he played incredibly average.
Our handling of Al Horford and Paul Millsap was disastrous. We let two all-star caliber players walk in free agency when we could have traded them and chased assets instead. We also chose Dennis Schroder over Jeff Teague that summer. Teague has been okay the past two years with Indy and Minnesota, while Schroder got arrested, played some of the worst defense in the NBA and has publicly said he wants to leave.
However, nothing compares to our front office moves last night. With the third pick, we were gifted the shot at a franchise player. Luka Doncic of Real Madrid has been widely considered as one of the best prospects the NBA has seen in a while and he was there for the taking, thanks to the Kings. Instead of taking the player who has a fantastic shot at turning our franchise around, the Hawks traded the pick to Dallas. Then, we wound up with Trae Young.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Trae Young will be a good player. His passing ability and vision really excites me, however everything else is a big gamble. His defense is horrible at best, his shooting is wildly inconsistent (shoots as much as Steph, makes it as much as Seth), and his turnover numbers are nowhere near appealing.
Also, I had been riding the Doncic hype train for a long time now (as evident by my twitter bio and header. Follow me @dreyfuss_adam), and to see him put on the Atlanta draft hat only to be traded to Dallas was very sad for me. Especially because I think Doncic is the best player in the class by a mile and will be a really special player in the NBA.
At pick 19, we took Kevin Huerter from Maryland. Full bias, I love this pick as I am a Maryland student, and am pumped for Huerter on the Hawks. However, removing my biases I don’t like the pick. Yes, Huerter is a fantastic shooter but the defense is a major, major concern.
At 30 we found ourselves taking Omari Spellman from Villanova. Great shooter, horrible defender. At 34, instead of taking a player in a fairly deep draft, we traded the pick for two future seconds.
My biggest complaint about last night was our style of picks. Our GM, Travis Schlenk, is a former assistant GM in Golden State. All three of our draft choices are the Dollar Tree version of Golden State’s trio. Trae has been compared to Steph, Huerter to Klay, Spellman to Draymond. I really, really doubt that any of these guys will be anywhere close to the talent of the three Warriors. Back to my point, I don’t like how our GM is trying to just emulate his former team. I don’t think we looked at all the prospects as much as we should have, but instead found three guys who somewhat resembled his former teams big three.
Overall, I’m not shocked by the Hawks poor draft last night, just disappointed. Disappointed in myself for thinking it would go any different. Our draft history sucks; 2001 drafting Pau Gasol and trading him for Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and 2005 drafting Marvin Williams second overall over Chris Paul and Deron Williams both stick out to me.
But one thing is for sure: I will give my unconditional support to Trae, Kevin and Omari because I am a fan of the Hawks. It’s not their fault that our front office is incompetent.
Also, Trae Young is winning Rookie of the Year and MVP next year…