The regular season isn't over and the playoff pairings aren't set but lets take a moment to cast an eye towards the offseason which will be a busy one for the Atlanta Hawks. In addition to having to answer questions about more than half of its roster and its head coach, the Hawks will also likely have four selections in the 2013 NBA Draft.
With the NCAA Tournament now over, ESPN.com's Chad Ford released his first mock draft of the season. While the actual draft order isn't known and things will certainly be in flux once prospects start working out for teams its never too early to start getting familiar with names that we will hear between now and June.
With the No. 16 pick Ford projects the Atlanta Hawks to draft Dario Saric who is a 6-10 small forward from Croatia who is 19 years old. Here is what Ford had to say about Saric:
There are mixed messages on whether Saric will enter the 2013 NBA draft. If he declares and slides this far, he probably won't stay in the draft. But if the Hawks can get their hands on him, they are getting a player with an off-the-charts basketball IQ who can play a lot of point forward in the pros. He's struggled a bit this year, but most international scouts in the know think the talent makes him worthy of a lottery pick. He's a great get here.
The Hawks will also receive the Houston Rockets' first round pick in the draft and Ford thinks they will grab San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin who is a 6-5 shooting guard with elite athleticism. Here are Ford's thoughts on that selection:
Franklin's game defies a position. He's a super-athletic wing who rebounds, plays above the rim and can do just about everything (but shoot) on the floor. The Hawks could really use a player like Franklin as a jack-of-all-trades coming off the bench.
Now it doesn't seem likely that the Hawks will carry four rookies on next season's roster which makes the selection of a foreign player possible and especially one that could remain overseas for more seasoning. I am not sure that is the case with Saric but it is something to keep an eye on.
There are also a couple of more players in Ford's mock with local ties that should be available on or around the time the Hawks pick late in the first round. Ford project's Georgia's Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the Chicago Bulls with the 19th pick of the first round. Caldwell-Pope was the SEC's Player of the Year and has not declared for the draft yet but if he gets a first round guarantee he will be much more likely to pull the trigger.
Another intriguing name is former Georgia Tech guard Glen Rice Jr who spent this season in the D-League after he was dismissed from the Yellow Jackets following last season. Ford projects Rice to the Oklahoma City Thunder with the 28th pick.
This is a very early look and the reality is things will look completely different when the order is set and the deadline for underclassmen to submit their names has come and gone. However, it is never too early to start looking at the draft and the draft pool. Atlanta has gotten good mileage out of both picks from last season's draft in John Jenkins and Mike Scott but this draft will be the first where GM Danny Ferry has been involved from the outset.
Exit Question: Who would you like to see the Hawks target in the 2013 NBA Draft?