As the calendar turned to 2014, the Atlanta Hawks looked to have a good chance at getting a lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft courtesy of the Brooklyn Nets. Three weeks later, the Nets have sorted things out and are poised to be a playoff team. Meanwhile, the Hawks have not collapsed after losing Al Horford and seem poised to remain a playoff team. This means the Hawks are likely to be picking between 16-19 in the upcoming draft. Who will be available when the Hawks are on the clock and how might they fit in Atlanta?
Off The Board
With the ping-pong balls out of play, you can take the elite players off the wish list: Kansas' Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins, Duke's Jabari Parker, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, Kentucky's Julius Randle, Arizona's Aaron Gordon and Australian Dante Exum are unlikely to fall out of the top 10. Likely joining them in the lottery are Michigan State's Gary Harris and Kentucky's James Young who would appear to be great fits as two-way wing players for the Hawks. Duke's Rodney Hood, Indiana's Noah Vonleh, and UCLA's Zach Lavine are other prospects likely to be off the board before the Hawks make their selection.
On The Board
In the deepest draft in recent memory, there are likely to be more success stories beyond the lottery than ever before. Will the Hawks be able to find one of those pieces? The ideal fit is a wing player with skill to play right away and enough athleticism to develop into a great player, but Danny Ferry also may choose to take the best player available regardless of position.
Defensive-minded sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein from Kentucky or Syracuse freshman point guard Tyler Ennis, steeped with unprecedented poise at a young age, could be selected even if they do not perfectly fit our current roster. If focused on improving the wing positions, there are four sophomores who could have the versatility to fit into the Hawks' system: Michigan small forward Glenn Robinson, Syracuse combo forward Jerami Grant, Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown, and UCLA guard/forward Kyle Anderson.
The most interesting prospect likely to be on the board when the Hawks select is former class of 2012 top-5 prospect Kyle Anderson. A huge disappointment last season while playing alongside Shabazz Mohammed, the uniquely versatile player is projected at picks 21-40 despite still having star potential. Anderson has improved his shot selection, defense, and playmaking as UCLA has emerged as a contender in the PAC-12.
At 6-foot-8, Anderson can run the point, has a unique ability to find the ball off the rim and has improved his shooting. Questions about what position he will play and whether he has the agility to become a great wing defender at the NBA-level have kept his stock from soaring. If he continues to be in the top-5 of the PAC-12 in assists, rebounding, and steals, Anderson could move up the board as the season progresses.
Could Anderson be one of the rare players selected late in the draft to become a star? Or will scouts jump on the bandwagon and see Anderson move up into the Lottery? Whatever the case, Kyle Anderson is a player for Hawks fans to keep an eye on as the 2014 NBA Draft approaches.