Within a fortnight, some questions will be answered. Others will begin in earnest. Still others can’t be answered until much later. In the spirit of crossing the bridge when you get to it, let’s examine some events involving the near and far future of our Atlanta Hawks.
We’re a week away from the NBA draft, and to hear some people tell it, this draft isn’t very deep. According to others, there is plenty of draftable talent available, albeit raw in most cases. Which theory do you believe? Will the Hawks be able to add two new recruits to the squad in the draft this year? Will they be able to add guys who can help (whether sooner or later), or guys who are merely useable assets? In the ever changing landscape of NBA mock drafts, here are the current guesses from a few websites that you’re probably familiar with already. This close to the draft, most sites have either made their last mockup, or will do so Monday. In the meantime:
Draftexpress.com has the Hawks taking South Florida’s Dominique Jones in the first round, and Thomas Heurtel of Strasbourg. Jones, an explosive attacker who finishes well at the rim, will probably excel for a team that wants to use him in a fast-paced offensive scheme. Standing 6′5″ in shoes, and with a strong 216 pound frame, the South Florida combo guard can and does defend either backcourt position well. He’ll have to work on his shooting a bit, but there is little question about his ability to get to the rim and the free throw line. Could the Hawks use a player like this (21.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.7 spg), or would they be best served looking at frontcourt players? It’s possible that Dominique Jones could be taken earlier, but one never knows. There is a lot less information readily available on Thomas Heurtel. A youngster on the French national team, Heurtel is said to be a good ballhandler and creator of his own shot, something he will get to prove once he joins the senior national team. In the meantime, he would be a guy that the Hawks kept stashed in Europe, to see if he can pan out later on. Cenk Aykol, anyone?
NBAdraft.net goes into more detail, providing an analysis of each NBA team in a separate piece. Though it’s not a whole lot different from what many have said here already, here’s their take on the Hawks. As far as their mock draft goes, they currently have us taking Nevada guard Armon Johnson in the first round, and New Mexico forward Darington Hobson in the second round. NBAdraft.net describes Johnson as a combo guard with developing point guard skills and a perimeter game that needs some work. Defensively, he is fundamentally sound and has the size to handle opposing point guards. Darington Hobson is described as a less explosive Chris Douglas-Roberts. That almost stopped me cold right there, but I kept reading anyway. Hobson appears to be quite the project despite his energy level and good attitude about rebounding. He may serve better as a shooting guard, but his weaknesses include bad decision making and very inconsistent offense, most often linked to bad shot selection and lack of body control.
Other mentionables include Hoopshype.com, which has us taking Virginia Commonwealth forward Larry Sanders in the first round.
Meanwhile, Yahoosports.com says we’ll opt for Mississippi shooting guard Terrico White.
Want more fun? Take the draft picks from one site, and see what another site has to say about those particular players. Sometimes you end up with similar analysis, sometimes you don’t.
The Drew Era
Some people are still convinced that Larry Drew won’t turn out to be much different than Mike Woodson. Others are obsessed with proving that he will be totally different. Is that really the important thing here? There’s no change like effective change, and that is where Larry Drew will make his mark as Hawks head coach. If you haven’t done so already, check out Drew’s response to questions that are probably in the minds of many fans, in AJC beat writer Michael Cunningham’s Q&A interview.
A couple of things in that interview might have the average Hawks fan wondering what we are in store for. The first is where Cunningham asks his offensive scheme will be like anything other teams or coaches run, and Drew says that it will be unique. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Just how “unique” will it be? Is this something no one has ever tried before? What happens if it doesn’t work? Does the scheme leave room for both big and small adjustments? I don’t know whether to think this will be something complex or just creative. This also makes me wonder how long of a learning curve a point guard will need to maximize the efficiency of himself and the team in Drew’s system. Well, as stated above, we will cross that bridge when we get to it. We can only hope that Drew doesn’t go too far off the grid while trying to create something new and different.
Then there was the comments on the defensive side of the ball. Or rather, the lack thereof. Larry Drew did say that he would be holding players accountable for defending their individual guy. However, he seemed vague almost to the point of evasive, beyond that. Maybe it was just me. Maybe it was Drew trying to avoid saying anything negative about his former boss’s defensive philosophy (though in a way, it seems like he was). Whatever the deal is, I’m interested in more specifics when it comes to the type of defense he wants to run. Aren’t you?
So what’s the whole “two week notice” about? Free agency of course. In less than two weeks, we’ll go on the JJ watch and see how long it takes to get resolved (think marathon, not sprint). While this “super free agent summit” thing doesn’t interest me in the slightest, there will be plenty of juicy rumors and speculative comments involving it, all of which may not result in anything truly earth-shattering.
What remains to be seen is which guys get targeted first, and if Joe Johnson’s name comes up in any prospective sign and trade deals. Again, rumors are rumors, but truth can be stranger than fiction. If sign and trade deals start popping up, we may get some indication of what Joe or the Hawks are wanting (which may not be anywhere close to the same thing). In the meantime….the summer of Sund continues…