The NBA Draft is more than two months away and four weeks will pass before the Atlanta Hawks find out their position in the lottery. However, the nature of a non-playoff team dictates that the draft is the next big event on the calendar for the organization and that means a lot of intrigue and discussion.
With that as the backdrop, Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk joined 92.9 The Game in Atlanta on Tuesday morning and the full interview is certainly worth a listen. However, one portion of the discussion was particularly noteworthy, and Kevin Chouinard of Hawks.com and ATL and 29 passes it along.
“There is a 75 or 76 percent chance that we’re going to have that pick at the ninth spot,” Schlenk said. “If we get lucky and jump up into the lottery, and hopefully Dallas does not, then we would be looking at two picks in the top ten, which would give us a lot of flexibility to maybe package picks and move up. We also have three picks in the second round this year -- 35, 41 and 44 -- so potentially five picks in the top 45. That gives us a lot of flexibility to make moves, so we’re excited about it.”
On the surface, there is nothing terribly surprising in here, as Schlenk has a firm command on what kind of chances the Hawks have to add an additional lottery pick from Dallas. The intriguing part, however, arrives when Schlenk indicates that the presence of a second pick in the top half of the first round “would give (the Hawks) a lot of flexibility to maybe package picks and move up.”
With Atlanta owning three solid picks in the second round, a popular notion has been that the team could package two or three of those selections in an effort to pop back into the first round to grab “their guy.” That certainly makes sense, especially if the Hawks end up with five overall selections and do not want to enter the 2019-20 campaign with a quintet of rookies on the roster.
The top of this draft, though, is not necessarily an ideal spot to attempt to move up. It should be noted that this is a free-flowing radio interview and, again, more than two months will pass between now and the draft itself. Still, this is a class that features one clear player at the top (Zion Williamson) and a strong No. 2 overall prospect (Ja Morant) who wouldn’t be a great fit in Atlanta.
With that in mind, the chance to package picks to move up in the lottery isn’t as enticing as it might seem and, frankly, would be a poor idea from a value perspective. The notable exception, of course, would be if the Hawks could somehow climb to the No. 1 spot but, in short, that would be a (very) tough ask given the marketability of Williamson and the fact that, well, another team has to agree to move down from No. 1 overall to allow the Hawks to make that leap.
Yes, there are players in this class that Schlenk and his front office team would rather have than others and, if the Hawks were to enter June with No. 7 and No. 9 (theoretically), it might be difficult to snag the prospect of their choosing. At the end of the day, however, this is a class that is very muddled beyond the top two and, when that is the case, trading up within the lottery probably isn’t the best idea, at least in a vacuum.