I admit, when I heard the Hawks drafted 6'11, 225 pound Keith Benson from a college that had produced exactly zero previous draft picks, I was not pleased. Not with Kansas' child Josh Selby still on the board.
We've seen one earlier grade from Chad Ford, who fueled more of my frustration when labeling him "Charmain soft".
Soon after the pick, I bottomed out quick out of frustration, mostly born from this organization's history (which goes way beyond Rick Sund, to be fair) of never taking a slider like Selby or DeJuan Blair and never making the bold move of buying into a draft or moving up to snag a real steal.
But, in looking at Bret LaGree's tentative and relative approval due to Benson's block rate and defensive rebound rate, I started to eek back from the edge. (I am, after all, a noted blocked shot fanboy)
Seeing Ford's grade didn't shock me since I saw what he thought of Benson last night, so I braced myself for SBN's own Tom Ziller's pronouncement of the Hawks draft.
Could Tom send me back to Fury Land or....something else?
Gained: Keith Benson.
Gave up: Nothing.
Synopsis: Hey, I've heard of Keith Benson! The skilled, versatile big man from Oakland (not California) draws the dreaded "soft" adjective from draft watchers and college fans, and the primary knock is that he's not strong or tough in the frontcourt. Sharing a front line with Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia? Toughness is accounted for.
I'm just disappointed they didn't steal Targuy Ngombo from the Wolves. That would have been the proper Hawks/Rick Sund thing to do.
Upon reflection, I've been burying the lead here. The Hawks, who have made a history out of bailing out of the second round, or making some really oddball selections, especially this late, made a pick that was intended to at least make a challenge for the roster, just as they had promised. And they did this in a draft where some teams were intentionally bailing out of the second round in response to a possible lockout.
Hey, I know, I'm scared, too.
He's still skinny as all get out, but I hope he can make a mark on the defensive glass, anyway, though my guess is that it will be hard to get good position at that weight. Huge wingspan and shot blocking, though---you know I'm liking that. I'm just sorry there is no summer league this year to give us a chance to see what he does against pseudo-NBA like flavors.
But for know, I am completely off the ledge and am eager to see what this guy can do. Hopefully, after everything gets worked out, this marks a change in philosophy about the draft, and balance veterans presences (and salaries) with productive young players under value contracts to help fill out the rotation and the bench.
I know. Dare to dream.