When voting for a political office or interpreting a front office prior to a professional draft, listen to nothing you hear and pay attention to have of what you have seen. What someone has done means a lot more than what they say they will do. Front offices that typically draft international players are likely to do so again. Organizations that take productive college players from big programs are likely to do so again. The Cleveland Cavaliers are likely to mess up whatever they do. The Spurs will know something no one else knows.
There are small signals that point out what might happen more than what general managers profess--particularly ones who say very little. It means something that Danny Ferry brought in Kyle Anderson for at least two workouts. It means something that Atlanta made at least two trips to Europe during the season to observe international players. It means something that Ferry has yet to be involved with an organization that has drafted a college player with only one year of college experience. You can find a link or report of Atlanta having interest and possibly drafting every player ranked 10-21 on the Peachtree Hoops Draft Board. If they claim some type of confirmation of knowing what Ferry is wanting to do, it probably has little validity.
I know nothing specifically of what Ferry will do, but here are some thoughts on what is most likely to happen based on the talent available and the scouting history of the Atlanta front office:
If they fall...
Saric is not going past the Hawks at 15. There are rumors that Ferry made a promise to Saric that he would not fall past 15, but that means little. I would not be surprised if Saric is in top 5 of Atlanta's board, so certainly Atlanta would take him at 15. I do not think he falls to 15 nor does Atlanta trade up to get him. However, if you see the Hawks move up, I would be surprised if it is for anyone but Saric.
Ferry, like his Spurs colleagues, has refrained from taking college freshman. Young is cut in a slightly different mold which is why I have tabbed him as an option for much of the season. Young did everything Calipari asked of him at Kentucky from defending out of position to running the offense when called upon. He did not always do these thing well, but running a team or defending a point guard will not be expected of him in the NBA. Young has been slipping on boards and could be an ideal fit in Atlanta.
It is difficult to imagine that Harris is in play for Atlanta, but he began to slip after measuring shorter than expected at the combine. Younger than some of the freshmen in the draft, Harris is a good offensive player but excels on the defensive end. He does everything well and could have a career arc comparable to Joe Dumars. Along with Marcus Smart, he is the player most ready to defend the perimeter in this draft.
I am not completely sold that Stauskas is a lottery pick, but most have him there now despite being in the 20s for much of the season. Stauskas is not a good athlete...he is a great athlete. His skill set has not translated on the defensive end, but he has improved. He is a playmaker and shooter who seems destined to be a dynamic 6th man at worst. Most likely a shooting guard, Stauskas has the handles to slide to the point and the length to potentially slide to the 3 if his defense improves.
If things go as expected...
Anderson is the most likely scenario tonight. He has worked out twice in Atlanta and brings passing, rebounding, and shooting--the 3 skills Atlanta most needs behind perimeter defense. A "point 4" position similar to Boris Diaw in Phoenix and San Antonio most fits his skill set. He lacks some athleticism, but brings a lot of length. It is possible Ferry could trade down a few spots and still target Anderson.
Capela was linked to Atlanta throughout the season, but other international players began to rise and he has been somewhat forgotten. I believe he is the best international prospect behind Exum and Saric. He remains raw, yet has been very productive within his limitations. He may be the best athlete in the draft based on size and could be a rangier Serge Ibaka. Offensively, his game is limited to his athleticism but his jumper does have some hope of improving.
Nurkic has had unprecedented production in the Adriatic League for his age. He is probably most similar to Nikola Pekovic. The concerns are that his success has mostly come from overwhelming smaller players. He has a better back-to-the-basket game than any other draft prospect, but it is difficult to know how his athleticism will translate to a faster game. He appears to have freed himself to come over immediately and this could improve his draft status with some teams. It actually may make him less attractive to teams who do not see him ready to contribute to a rotation.
A little less likely yet clearly on the board...
The dynamic leading scorer in the ACC, Warren is a good prospect completely worthy of the 15 pick. However, he may not be the best fit in Atlanta unless it is as a replacement for Mike Scott. Warren projects as an average defender and passer who does not rebound well for his size. He is a bit of a tweener at the forward position, but he can flat out score. He has a unique game and can probably help and NBA bench that needs scoring immediately. Teams selecting him with hopes of playing him on the wing are reaching.
A top-10 prospect by many accounts, McDermott will certainly be playing in an NBA rotation next year. He should be able to knock down shots and be a bench weapon immediately. Unfortunately, I have no clue who he will be able to defend and his rebounding did not translate well against good competition. Without a secondary skill, he will be limited to being a niche player, albeit one with an elite skill that should keep him in the league for as long as he stays healthy.
A high character big with range, Payne is a unique prospect. It would be no surprise if he finds his way on the All-Rookie team should he end up in the right situation. Payne may be able to play 3 position in the right role. He lacks lateral athleticism, but his length helps him compensate. A "stretch" player who is also physical, Payne is another player that could be a target if Atlanta trades down.
The player most likely to be regretted for being passed on in three years, McDaniels is a warrior defensively who carried the offensive load for a skill-challenged Clemson team. K.J. may be able to defend point guards and thinner power forwards and is an elite shot blocker. He is a solid NBA player even if he never fully develops his perimeter shot. A great free throw shooter for his athletic ability, McDaniels gets to the line. He still needs to improve his handle and passing ability, but he could become a star if his outside shot reaches its potential.
There are whispers that Ferry is interested in Napier at 15. If those are legitimate, it is not necessarily a condemnation of Jeff Teague. Napier being selected would more likely be an indicator of Lou Williams being moved. Shabazz is as ready to help a team immediately as anyone in the draft and can play off the ball for brief periods. If Shabazz is selected, I would check Lou's locker before worrying about Teague.
There are many options tonight, but it would be a big surprise if Atlanta takes someone not on this list at 15. If Atlanta uses the pick at 15, Kyle Anderson is the player most likely available who appears to best fit in Atlanta. Should the Hawks draft a player at 15 who is expected to have a spot on the roster and keep their pick at #43, expect Atlanta to take a player to be stashed overseas. That does not necessarily rule out it being a college player as Mike Muscala was initially overseas last season. Nikola Jokic is a player to keep an eye on at that spot.