The selection order for the upcoming NBA draft was set with the completion of the draft lottery on Tuesday evening. The Atlanta Hawks were not players in the lottery but the results could impact any potential plans to make a trade before or during the draft as to optimize their position. The Hawks currently own picks 19, 31 and 60.
If the Hawks are going to make a move via trade, let’s hope they are evaluating opportunities to move up; given where they are with the current roster construction and their draft assets, they should be significantly valuing quality over quantity. Despite how the new CBA (that will take effect in July) increases the number and type of roster spots available to teams, the Hawks should be prioritizing upper tier talent over depth.
The ideal trade partner would be in the area of the 10-14 spots and be short on future draft picks. Since the additional picks the Hawks have added appear very unlikely to land in the top half of the first round of any future draft, it seems unrealistic that they have what it takes to move into one of the Top 9 selections or so of this year’s draft. But if a player that they highly covet is available when the draft reaching spots 10-14, it may be worth their while to consolidate draft assets into a trade offer that would allow them to select that player.
Let’s take a look at a couple of potential trading partners and how the lottery results impacted any potential trade scenarios.
The Heat appear to be on a path that will allow them to have three first-round draft picks and as few as zero second round draft picks in the next five drafts. Yet they seem to be at a point of needing to add young talent around a mostly young core of players on their current roster. It would have been optimal for the Hawks in a potential trade scenario if Miami had landed around the 11-12 spot in the lottery.
Most evaluations of this year’s draft class I read have 10-11 players separated in terms of talent from the rest of the draft pool. A player the Hawks might view as a difference maker would be more likely to be available within a spot or two of the 10th spot than down at 14. A couple of slots really do make that much of a difference in these scenarios.
Still if things were to break just right on draft night, if the Hawks see “their guy” available when the Heat are on the clock, it could be worth consolidating a projected future late first round pick with a second round pick to move up 5 spots to get that player.
The lottery broke about as well for the Kings as it could have; they could have walked away without a first round draft pick at all but have picks 5 and 10. It’s impossible to predict what the Sacramento strategy might be; last season they used the 8th pick to move down and add an additional first round pick. But make no mistake, they will feel the pressure to make the most of this draft after moving Demarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans at the trade deadline.
A very good player could be available when the Kings are put on the clock at the 10 spot. Sacramento isn’t really short of future draft assets in the way that an ideal trade partner would be, but the Hawks could potentially make an offer that might improve the optics for the Kings regarding the trade of Cousins as to move up from the 19th to 10th selection.
The fact that the Kings ended up with the 10th spot was potentially good for Hawks in terms of the likelihood of making them a potential trade partner; had the pick landed 11th or later it would have become property of the Chicago Bulls. The fact that a team worried about how a trade of such significance will be evaluated after the draft picks included in the trade are worked out landed potentially “in range”, it could open the door on a deal just enough for the Hawks to target a specific player at that spot.
There is nothing earth shattering for the Hawks in the results of Tuesday night’s draft lottery. But there is much greater likelihood of a difference making talent to be available at the 10th or 14th spot than at 19. And maybe the results will prove to have shaken out in just the right way for the Hawks to make a move come draft night.