To hear Rick Sund and Dave Pendergraft talk today, the Hawks have changed their thinking when it comes to second-round draft picks.
Don’t expect the Hawks to draft another international project and either leave him playing overseas (Sergey Gladyr) or banish him to the far end of the bench/D-League (Pape Sy). More likely they will target a collegiate senior and, Pendergraft says, they expect to buck the odds and find a useful player at No. 48.
“We are not approaching this like there is luck involved,” he said. “We are approaching it like, ‘This is our pick and somebody we expect to make our team.’ And hopefully, if there is an injury, you can plug [the rookie] in there and they will be able to help.”
Perhaps more significantly, the Hawks might finally be to the point where there doesn’t have to be an injury to to the rotation guys for young guys to play. Sure, that might happen by necessity with just seven players under (guaranteed) contract next season and no financial flexibility (under the current CBA), but it still would represent a change in direction for the organization.
Asked if there is room on the roster for a promising second-round pick to get minutes, Pendergraft said:”What you have to weigh is, if we take a collegiate player and he is put in the same situation as Josh Powell or Etan Thomas, could they do as well or better?”
The other question, of course, is if the coach would play a rookie who is as good as those guys, but one thing at a time.
Sund said the Hawks are likely to draft the best available talent.
“It’s safe to say that, but I’m not going to commit to it,” he said. “I think you look at it as a need that you have and the best talent and then you equate it. Is that talent significantly better than the need? If it’s close, you take the need.”
What do the Hawks need?
“We would like to get a little tougher,” Sund said. “Hinrich helped us in that area and that kind of trickled down to some of the other players. I always like shooting. Size, rebounding. All of those things. Maybe not one is more important than the other.”
What skills tend to translate best from college to pro?
“People that rebound in college generally rebound in the NBA, even if they don’t make it for [the long term],” Sund said. “If you are a good rebounder in college, generally a good rebounder at professional level. Or if you are a good shooter. Some guys may be good shooters but they need more time to get it off.”
The Hawks aren’t releasing the names of the prospects they bring in for workouts. Sund’s explanation was that the workouts are not as significant since the Hawks don’t have a first-round pick. He said the players the team invited to Atlanta are simply those the Hawks didn’t get a chance to see at one of the three group workouts.
Pendergraft said the Hawks invited about 20 players. Most are college seniors and only three or four prospects are centers/power forwards.
“There’s probably been more swing players than ‘bigs’ simply because of supply and demand,” Pendergraft said. “There are not a lot of big guys.”
OK, blog people, take those clues provided by Sund and Pendergraft (college senior, tough rebounder or good shooter) and look at the list of prospects and see if you can narrow down the Hawks’ potential draftees.
“The process in the second round, [since] the percentages aren’t all that high, is patience,” Sund said. “We ask a couple different questions. Does he have one NBA skill? Another is, does he have size? Or is there a player that is a little bit opposite of ‘Do they one NBA skill?’ and do they have multiple skills? A lot of those guys, like Bobby Simmons, are jacks-of-all-trades; they do a lot of things good but nothing necessarily great. Those players do have an opportunity to make it as—and I’m using this in a positive way—to have more of a journeyman status over the years.”