This was an SBNation Editor's pick, and we wanted to (finally) promote it to the front page. Nice work!
As everyone knows, the Hawks chose Keith Benson with its only draft pick at #48 in this year's draft. There are mixed emotions and questions of uncertainty with Benson. His most questionable flaw is without a doubt his lack of body mass. Second to that is the lack of competition as he has been POY two years straight in the Summit League (a mid-major league). With those being his biggest flaws, there is intrigue in his potential upside. He has shown that he can gain weight as he added 34 lbs (going from a very thin 190 to a slender 224) during his college campaign. And he has said that he could add 20 -25 more pounds to his frame. As far as competition, one thing in his favor is that he dominated lesser competition. He put up the numbers and has the accolades to show. Secondly, he held his own against major talent. I also think that had he played with better talent around him, he could have had an even better college career and probably have been in the mix to be drafted in the 1st round.
His upside?Except for his weight, he has all the tools to become an effective big man in the NBA. He is a very good defender (rebounds well, blocks shots, and mobile). He has a good offensive game also with a balanced and diverse array of scoring moves. He has good footwork in the post, good positioning and good hands. He has good range on his shot, a left and right jump hook, and a turnaround J. Because he has the necessities to be good defensively and has offensive abilities that makes him a threat offensively, I'd say that he has a very good chance to make an impact on the roster.
That is our draft pick. Magnum Rolle is an honorary draft pick in my opinion. He was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft by the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers didn't have enough roster spots to keep him (they contemplated waiving Solomon Jones to make room for him) and so he went to the D-league but injury held him out for a while. He and Benson are very similar. Very, very similar. Rolle is a little more athletic with great leaping ability and punishing dunking ability. He is also a C/PF prospect that could make some noise on the roster. If Rolle and Benson could mimic at the very least what Amir Johnson or Andray Blatche have shown, then they could prove to be very valuable.
Also in the fold is Pape Sy. Sy was sidelined in the early part of the season with a back injury but later made his debut in the D-League. Sy put up decent numbers but not much more is known of him as there was when the Hawks drafted him. We need to see more of him, but the organization especially LD and Sund are very high on him. Maybe he could lock down the 3rd PG role and develop into the backup role in a couple of years.
The last prospect that the Hawks have shown interest in but don't have rights to as of now is Jeremy Hazell. Many people expected the Hawks to pick a guard in this year's draft since they traded away Jordan Crawford and Jamal Crawford is set to be a free agent and may not be in uniform come next season. Hazell is an undrafted free agent and is invited to the Hawks mini-camp this week. Just as exciting a scorer as JC2 was coming out of college, Jeremy Hazell has the same excitement in his game. He is a bigger guard than JC2 and may be a bit better on the defensive end also, which would be a good fit with next year's roster as the Hawks have expressed getting better defensively.
If all four of these prospects make the roster next season, and the probability is high considering the Hawks salary cap situation and their wanting to get young talent in the organization, the Hawks will have a good mix of young talent that could develop and have an impact on the roster. The common theme that I see in all four of these players is that they have offensive ability but defense is a big part of their game.
The Hawks are making moves to develop talent and to find talent in inconspicuous places. San Antonio has made a living off of finding and developing low radar talent. Maybe the Hawks can take that model and turnover some good players.
Another off-season roster move proposal.
Depth and rotation:
PG - Teague, Hinrich, Sy
SG - JJ, Bogans, Hazell
SF - Smoove, Marvin
PF - Al, Chuck Hayes, Rolle
C - Zaza, Asik, Benson, Collins