The Atlanta Hawks spent the majority of the 2016 NBA Draft process focused on making only one first round selection, but after the team elected to move on from Jeff Teague, Mike Budenholzer and Wes Wilcox had two of the first 21 picks in which to operate with on Thursday night. In the end, those picks were invested in former Baylor forward Taurean Prince and former St. Joseph's swingman DeAndre Bembry.
I know what you're thinking.
Extracting the number 12 overall pick in exchange for Teague provided the Hawks with the opportunity to swing for the fences if they chose to do so. Players like Henry Ellenson, Deyonta Davis, Dejounte Murray and Skal Labissiere remained on the board when Atlanta came on the clock for its first pick, but instead of taking that home run approach, the Hawks simply made a safe, calculated pick in a player that fills a roster need with Prince.
Later, Atlanta had another opportunity to choose raw upside over stability, eschewing Davis, Murray and Labissiere again in order to pick up Bembry. While the 6-foot-6 Bembry does present off-the-charts athleticism to go along with a high basketball IQ and impressive scoring ability, neither Prince nor Bembry would be mistaken with a high-risk selection that you may expect in the first round of a "bad" draft.
With all of that said, there is a lot to like about this thought process.
It could easily be argued that Atlanta's biggest weakness, provided Al Horford returns on a lucrative contract, is on the wing, especially when it comes to boasting size to combat elite options in the form of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George and others. Prince displays the more impressive physical ability on the defensive end, but in the case of Bembry, the latter selection might be more purely athletic and quicker.
More than anything, this is a front office that has repeatedly passed on the "upside" of draft picks in favor of young veterans or even safer college juniors and seniors, and this is another example. Atlanta is still looking long-term with both investments in this first round, but at the same time, this is a team that has built a winning program and the Hawks appear to be looking for additional talent that can arrive with relative haste.
Neither Taurean Prince nor DeAndre Bembry profiles as an All-Star player in the future, but it appears clear that the Hawks weren't overly interested in high-upside, low-floor prospects in the first round. Prince looks to be a potentially elite "3-and-D" option in the mold that virtually every NBA team is seeking right now, while Bembry's passing ability, explosive athleticism and intelligent play should a perfect fit in Atlanta's offensive system.
Will this draft class blow away pundits or, especially, fans? Probably not, but the Hawks put together an exceptionally "Hawks-y" duo in the first round and, in hindsight, we probably shouldn't be terribly surprised.