With only a few hours until the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery, the Atlanta Hawks are awaiting the result of ping-pong balls alongside the rest of the league. The team is in a strong position, with the potential for two picks in the top ten, but an intriguing notion came to light on Tuesday afternoon from Sean Deveney of Sporting News.
Deveney indicates that the Hawks are “chief among” teams that would not target Murray State point guard Ja Morant at No. 2 overall if, of course, the lottery dictated that Atlanta arrived in that slot. In fact, Deveney flatly states that “if the Hawks land at No. 2, they won’t draft Morant.” That sentiment does not come as a massive surprise given the presence of top-flight point guard Trae Young and Deveney indicates that, as you may expect, a trade would be a possibility if Travis Schlenk and company found themselves in the runner-up position on lottery night.
Beyond that, however, Deveney brings word that league sources say “the Hawks favor Texas Tech wing Jarrett Culver, believing that his blend of athleticism and defensive prowess will make for a smooth transition to the league and that he can develop enough of a 3-point shot to be effective in the NBA.”
It should be noted that Atlanta could likely acquire Culver at a later draft slot but, ultimately, Deveney’s sources indicate that, “if Atlanta winds up with the second pick, their choice likely would come down to Culver or a trade.”
As part of his pre-lottery media availability, Schlenk was prompted about the potential to select a point guard (and, particularly, Morant) and he was non-committal on the subject.
“If we feel like he was the best player, we’re going to take a long hard look at it,” Schlenk said. “A lot of that is going to be played out on the 14th, when we figure out where we are. Teams want point guards and point guards have value too, and I think last year proved that we’re not scared to take a pick and collect more assets. These lottery picks are the most valuable things we have, so we have to maximize those.”
At this early stage, rumors are already flying and it is (very) important to note that the Hawks have only a 10.5 percent chance to land in the No. 2 spot by the end of May 14. Still, this is interesting food for thought, particularly through the lens of the team’s reported interest in Culver.