The Atlanta Hawks surprised many with the draft day maneuvering that landed them former Knicks shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. along with a couple more European prospects. General Manager Wes Wilcox talked about the draft process and gave some insight into what attracted the team to Hardaway Jr.
"We started off with a couple of goals coming into the night," Wilcox said. "One of them was to acquire some additional assets. Another one was to add shooting and we knew that in some way whether it was no or in free agency we were going to look to add another player to the shooting guard position. We're excited that we were able to do that tonight with Tim."
As has become the norm, information regarding what direction the Hawks might go in before the draft was limited. According to Wilcox, they explored a number of options at No. 15 and ultimately traded back to No. 19 while picking up a pair of future second round picks from the Washington Wizards.
"Each draft is really unique. You are constantly juggling the move up scenarios, the move out scenarios, the move back scenarios and the trade for players scenario while you are managing who you may actually select at whatever position you are. That's kind of the reason it gets so busy because its really this dynamic time where you are trying to juggle all of them. And really sequencing becomes the challenge."
"It was an interesting draft As is often the case before your pick, the phones really heat up. Probably the busiest draft room I have ever been in. I think at one point we had eight or nine offers for 15. It was a very busy night. I think most of the league was after one player. Those went away right before 15. So we had known that there was opportunities to flip back because there were other players that we had identified that we could potentially take. So we flipped back and you start all over again with another pick."
Once at No. 19, the process started over for Atlanta. They weighed more possibilities and eventually settled on dealing the pick to New York for Hardaway Jr who was a player that according to Wilcox, they have been following for quite some time.
"Tim's a player we have followed for quite a while and we are excited about what he brings to us. Shooting is something we felt we always want to add. Tim's proven he can do that. Tim's proven he is an NBA player. We think he can fit in our style of play as well. We think he is a system fit for us. We are excited about it."
"When he became available to us, I think it just made sense. I'm not sure it was about whether a guy could play or not play out of the draft, but certainly we feel that Tim has an opportunity to impact the rotation next year. It also seems to be the right place for our team."
The acquisition of Hardaway continues a trend for the team of acquiring minimal risk players with high upside. Names like DeMarre Carroll and Kent Bazemore come to mind. The team believes in its player development model and it was clear while listening to Wilcox and Mike Budenholzer talk, that they think Hardaway Jr. can be very successful in their system.
In the second round, Atlanta picked up a pair of European prospects who are not candidates to join the team next season. Marcus Eriksson is coming off of a torn ACL that limited him to just one game for FC Barcelona this season while Dimitrios Agravanis played with Olympiacos and remains under contract with Olympiacos.
"They are under contract, both of them," Wilcox said. "They'll both stay. One of them is with Olympiacos and the other with Barcelona. Marcus Eriksson is a player that we have followed for quite a while. Tore his ACL so he missed a year. We thought that might actually be an opportunity, had he played the year he probably would have gone much higher in the draft. Agravanis plays for Olympiacos, both Euroleague teams that play at a very high level."
The draft may have ultimately left many fans disappointed, but the Hawks seem to have come away happy and excited with their return. In the short term, trading for Hardaway Jr. saves them a bit of money for this summer's free agency pursuit. When asked about free agency, Wilcox indicated that the team's focus "begins with our guys."