With the 2014 NBA Draft just around the corner, I sat down with a few potential Atlanta Hawks draftees during the NBA’s media availability session to get their takes on what kind of players they wanted to model their games after, how their workouts with Atlanta went and how they would fit in with the Hawks’ schemes.
One of the most athletically gifted players in the class, Zach LaVine, offered some interesting tidbits on his workout as well as some praise for the Hawks.
“I played the point guard a lot there. I played off guard some. I tried to show my playmaking ability, ability to get to the hoop, create for others. Shot the ball really well there,” said LaVine. “They’re a great organization, I talked to them a couple of times so hopefully they like me.”
T.J. Warren – one of the NCAA’s leading scorers – said, “My Hawks workout went good, it was my first one so I was a little nervous. It went really well for me, I really showed what I can do.”
NCAA champion and point guard Shabazz Napier offered his opinions on the Hawks workout: “It went well. I shot the ball well. After the workout we talked for a while and I think it all went well.”
But how will these guys fare playing Atlanta Hawks basketball?
I asked LaVine about playing off the ball on offense.
“I feel like I showed that at UCLA. At UCLA I got to play off the ball a lot. I feel like I’m capable having the ball in my hands, I feel comfortable with it in my hands as well,” said LaVine. “Whatever a team wants to put me in I’ll be perfectly fine in it, I’ll just do it to the best of my abilities.”
I asked Napier how he would respond to those who have concerns about his defense on the next level.
“If they watched the national championship run they wouldn’t question it at all. I led my team in almost all the categories besides probably blocking. I probably had like two-and-a-half, three steals in the national championship run,” said Napier. “If they haven’t watched that, there’s nothing I can tell them besides go out there on the next level and prove I can play defense. But I’m not out here to prove nothing to anybody, i’m out here to continue to work on my game and get better.
Duke’s Rodney Hood has 3-and-D potential, with the height to even play some stretch four if he can bulk up some. I asked for his thoughts on playing the power forward in the NBA.
“I think I’m pretty versatile, I can play the two, three, once I get a little stronger I can play some stretch four at times. I think I can do it and cause some match-up problems but we’ll see.”
Dario Saric – an international prospect with a variety of skills on offense – actually pointed to the NBA champs when I asked him which style of basketball would best suit his game. “Probably similar to San Antonio. I think it’s the best way for me, for my game.”
Saric may see himself playing at his best in a Spurs-esque offense such as Atlanta’s, but it won’t happen anytime soon because of the contract he signed with Turkish club Anadolu Efes. This keeps Saric overseas for at least two more years, which is a big wait for a potentially big payout. I asked Dario what he’d look to improve before heading to the NBA. “My body. My shot. Everything because I must bring my basketball level on another level.”
A name popping up on many mocks as a player Atlanta could select is Kentucky’s James Young, who plans to model his game after a great. “When he was in the league, definitely Tracy McGrady. That’s the guy I looked up to. Just the way he scored in every way it was just amazing.”
The Hawks pick 15th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft tomorrow.