For years the Atlanta Hawks turned NBA Draft Night into a nightmare for Hawks fans, with reaches and projects and a contempt for working up and down the draft with the acumen that defines the top tier franchises in the league.
With Danny Ferry executing his first draft, Hawks fans got to feel what it was to be in the mix for trades, picks and (brace yourself) acclaim for their work.
WHO THEY TOOK:
Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
The Hawks wanted to get a big for Al Horford and, in doing so, get someone who can run the floor, finish above the rim and protect the rim. There were few players who could do all of that and Ferry traded up to the 16th pick to make sure they got him.
The big man they call BeBe (bay-bay) had been moving up draft boards, was on some predictions for Atlanta and some as high as #13 to Dallas and was 14th on Chad Ford's Big Board and 26th on SB Nation's big board.
Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
We've been clear about our thoughts about how Hawks management does/doesn't see Jeff Teague as the PG of the long term for the Hawks. Those educated guesses appear to be confirmed by the drafting of Schroeder, who ESPN's Chad Ford called "The German Rajon Rondo".
Mike Muscala, C, Bucknell
That the Hawks took two centers, and one in Muscala who is very good at defensive rebounding, is refreshing in regards to helping Al Horford.
From Chad Ford's big board, where Muscala was ranked 33rd.
His workout on Friday was extraordinary. It's no exaggeration to say that he missed two shots the entire workout. His skill set both around the basket (with an impressive jump hook) and facing the basket (especially from midrange out to the college 3-point line) was terrific. He has perfect form on his jump shot and a nice touch.
He showed the same shooting ability at the NBA draft combine last week, when he led all players with a 76 percent shooting percentage. Clearly he and Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk are the most skilled big men in the draft and their college PERs back it up. Olynyk was ranked first and Muscala second in the nation in PER.
What concerns teams -- a little -- is Muscala's lack of strength in the post. He has a thin frame, isn't an elite athlete and isn't particularly long. However, he's so skilled, both around the basket and on the perimeter, that teams may try to make him a face-the-basket 4 at the next level.
I expect him to go somewhere between 15 and 35 on draft night. That's a pretty wide range, but it seems that teams are just now warming up to him. If he shoots it like that in workouts, he's going to rocket up draft boards.
Muscala is an extremely efficient big who rebounds, blocks shots and can shoot it. His lack of ridiculous upside likely deflated his worth in the draft, leaving him a potential steal as a rotational big off the bench.
THE TRADES: A
The Hawks ended up with Nogueira (16), Muscala (44) and Jared Cunningham (DAL) for Shane Larkin (18).
They also dealt Raul Neto (47) and James Ennis (50) to Utah and Miami, respectively, for those two future second round picks.
The Hawks got a better second rounder and a first rounder simply for taking Jared Cunningham off DAL hands. Brilliant!
Lucas Nogueira: B
While I would like to give this an A for getting a center, having Gorgui Dieng on the board at the time of the pick, who appears more proven, even though he is 23 while BeBe is 20 and an inch taller, makes it a little flat.
Dennis Schroeder: B+
A fine value where they picked him and at a key position, he is only 19 and still much to show in growth. Taking Dieng here would have been good, too -- Two center is no crime. No slam dunk here, but a great value pick at a key position, especially if they are going to need to make a tough decision on Jeff Teague soon.
Mike Muscala: A
A quality big find in the second round? For the Hawks? In a trade? The fact that Muscala is what the Hawks want from a big (efficient, rebounder, defender) are tasty cherries on the sundae.
Better than solid draft from Danny Ferry and team. We wanted them to deliver a Spurs-like draft and they delivered. They acquired a big, a point and another big while maneuvering to get better assets than they had coming into the draft. Bravo, guys! Nice to be able to be participants in the draft instead of seemingly being contemptuous of it.