It is probably a little premature at this point seeing as how the Hawks don't even have a coach or a coaching staff, however workouts have begun for the 2010 NBA Draft. The Hawks will be picking 24th in the draft and as teams like the San Antonio Spurs have shown, a player that can contribute can be found picking that late. The team grabbed Point Guard Jeff Teague in last years draft with the 19th pick and he is expected to play a much bigger role in his second season.
Reminiscing about past drafts can be a point of trepidation for Hawks fans. In recent years the 2005 and 2006 draft selections of Marvin Williams and Sheldon Williams have been met with controversy. In fact if you look back through the years the Hawks have not been lucky when drafting late in the first round. Looking back for every Josh Smith there is Cal Bowdler, Ed Gray, and Priest Lauderdale. While those look backs can be both painful and humorous in some cases it doesn't have anything to do with this season and the selection that Rick Sund will be making on June 24th.
Before we start looking at some potential targets lets keep in mind that the draft is six days before free agency begins. So it is quite possible that the Hawks will go into the draft not knowing the intentions of told the AJC's Michael Cunningham that he doesn't look for immediate help to come from the draft. He instead speculates that any immediate help will most likely have to come from free agency.or whether or not they will have a shortage at the guard position. According to assistant General Manager Dave Pendergraft that probably won't be an issue as he
The Hawks potentially will have a need for a shooter and a need for a big man. The draft overall isn't blessed with a lot of shooters with Kansas Freshman Guard Xavier Henry probably being the best of the bunch. Henry though will probably be long gone by the time the Hawks pick. As for the bigs in this draft, there really are questions about even the ones projected to go at the top of the lottery.
In the conversation with Cunningham, Pendergraft talks about the possibility of the Hawks sending whomever they draft to their D-League affiliate:
"I don’t think we will necessarily get a rotational piece. We can get a player who after some seasoning can stay in the NBA for a while, that can make a career out of it. If we can keep our roster intact I don’t see a lot of playing time. It will be a situation where we take advantage of our D-League affiliate."
Trying to utilize the D-League into a viable and successful option would appear to be a good idea only if the Hawks are intent of filling a full roster this season instead of the league minimum of 13 players that they carried last season.
Lets look now at a few of the possible choices that the Hawks might have available to them with the 24th pick:
Hassan Whiteside Center - Marshall - Whiteside is listed here on the strength of Chad Ford placing him at this slot in his Mock Draft and the AJC's Mark Bradley picking up on it as well. Personally I don't think there is any way that Whiteside will slip this far. He is a legit Seven Footer with a huge wingspan that simply has slipped this far in Ford's rankings because he didn't interview well at the Pre-Draft Camp in Chicago. That is something that can be corrected with a good agent. A few strong workouts and better judgment will no doubt see him move back up the draft board. That said if he is available then the Hawks should take him and stash him in the D-League. He could turn into Solomon Jones but he could develop into a lot more as well.
Quincy Pondexter Small Forward - Washington - Ford calls Pondexter the best Senior in the country. In some ways though that is not viewed as a complement. Guys that stay four years in college now a days are viewed as not having the upside of some of the underclassman. Pondexter is not a big and definitely not a shooter but he is an uber-athlete and should translate into a good defender. Don't be surprised if the Hawks take him as the safest pick available.
Terrico White - Shooting Guard - Mississippi - White is being viewed as a combo guard but the jury is out as to whether or not he can actually play the point at this level. He is a streaky shooter that had an excellent two days shooting the ball at the Chicago Pre Draft Camp. He is just 20 years old and would seem like a good candidate to get some seasoning in the D-League.
Kevin Seraphin - Power Forward - France - Another big body that could use some more seasoning however his would probably come from overseas rather than in the D-League. He is not very skilled offensively but does possess an NBA body. His stock took a hit when he measured only 6'9" without shoes at the Draft Camp. He may actually be a power forward.
Elliot Williams - Shooting Guard - Memphis - He has a lot of the same questions that Terrico White has. He is an inch shorter and didn't play the point in college. However, he has always been a favorite of mine and thus I am throwing him in there for comparison. Here is another guy that would need some D-League development but he is a competitor and found ways to score at two very good programs in college.
Gani Lawal - Power Forward - Georgia Tech - Wouldn't surprise me for the Hawks to bring home the home town guy. He is long and has the bulk to develop into a serviceable big man in the pros but has to show that he has the work ethic and the understanding to do so. His stock was actually higher last season. Still though he will get a look late in the first round. I don't have a problem if the Hawks pick him in the second but if they take him here I am not going to be happy.
Others - Damion James, Patrick Patterson, Keith Gallon, Craig Brackens, Larry Sanders
There will be others as well and we will revisit this subject many times between now and the draft.