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Coming into draft night the Atlanta Hawks had several questions to answer after shipping Jeff Teague to his hometown Pacers just a day earlier for the 12th pick. The move that helps Atlanta sign Horford and possibly bring back Bazemore. Atlanta struggled much of this season rebounding and taking care of the ball, with an undersized frontcourt and unsettling backcourt debate. However, just as detrimental as those deficiencies were, the lack of youth and athleticism were just as apparent.

 

Free agent Kent Bazemore was that youthful bright spot in the backcourt bringing energy, athleticism, intensity and shooting; but he will surely be sought after this summer and once again put the Hawks back in familiar predicament searching for a multidimensional asset at either the SG or SF position.

 

Despite how the draft unfolded, Hawks GM Wes Wilcox reassured importance of Kent Bazemore to this team.

 

Wilcox and Coach Mike Budenholzer elected to address those needs in this draft by selecting Taurean Prince (6’6) and DeAndre Bembry(6’8), Two hard working individuals that possess not only athleticism, but the ability to score in a variety of ways that fit the hawks system, qualities that were glaringly missing as LeBron and company swept their season away once again. As they’ve shown in the past, the possibility of losing their most versatile player (like demarre last summer) prompted their decision to draft these two in hopes they too embrace and flourish within Budenholzers developmental system like Bazemore.

Wilcox talks about the focus of this draft

 

Prince averaged 15 points (leading scorer) and 6 rebounds per game leading Baylor to the NCAA tournament, where they were upset in the first round by 12th seed Yale. His versatility fits right into the scheme coach Bud employs, he prefers players like Demarre Carroll and Thabo Sefolosha, who are interchangeable between either the 2 or 3 spot. Prince compares mostly to Demarre because of his 6”11 wingspan and lateral quickness that assist in his effectiveness as defender. Offensively, Prince may be limited somewhat as a ballhandler, but the ability to knock down the three point shot, mainly catch n shoot, was apparent in the loss versus Yale as he went 4-7 from beyond. Prince can contribute right away by being that high motor disrupter defensively and floor spreader offensively that we saw at Baylor. Despite his troubles creating opportunities for himself off the dribble right now; Budenholzer’s system doesn’t require that skillset from his wings, it highlights everything Prince is made of.

 

The A-10 Player of the Year, Deandre Bembry, provides the hawks with more playmaking, more versatility defensively along with a team-oriented mindset that coincides with Atlanta’s concept. Because of his ballhandling skills and quickness, he has a knack of finding the seams in defenses comfortably, thus creating opportunities for himself and others. In his final year as a St. Joseph Hawk, Bembry was only one of three players in the nation to average at least 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4 assist, Ben Simmons and Denzel Valentine were the others two.

 

“He’s a good Hawks fit. He can handle, he can pass, and he’s unselfish. He is an exceptionally great passer, said Wilcox.

 

Deandre talks about his versatility

 

Shooting currently is his biggest obstacle, consisting of his mechanics (slow release and shoots on the way down) shot selection and three point woes(just 26% last season). Luckily for him, Hawks shooting coach Ben Sullivan has done a remarkable job with Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha; but even more notably he played a large part in Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard’s development as shooters during his time in San Antonio. He will surely have his work cut out for him with Bembry as a shooter, but his all around game fits just right.

 Lets be honest, neither one of these guys were what many Hawks fans expected. But they are definitely what were needed.

 

“We are confident in the work we’ve done and the time we put in to this”, said a smiling Wes Wilcox post-draft.

Photo cred: Randy Belice/NBAE/Getty Images

It’s been a wild couple of days.

The Hawks managed to secure themselves the 12th overall pick to add to their own 21st pick. But it came at a cost: Jeff Teague is gone, headed to Indiana in the same deal will send George Hill to Utah and (from Utah) the 12th overall pick to Atlanta. Now, the trade hasn’t been made official yet (and probably won’t until July), so the Hawks can’t actually confirm Prince as their draft pick, but you can take it on good faith that the Jazz selected for the Hawks last night.

12th overall pick

With the 12th pick the Hawks drafted Taurean Prince out of Baylor. I was ecstatic with the Hawks selecting Prince, I think he’s an excellent fit for the Hawks, possessing a lot of tools that the Hawks like in their wing players.

From Part 2 of our Hawks Draft Preview:

Prince, meanwhile, possesses very good height for a small forward, standing 6’8 tall (with a 6’11.5 wingspan to boot). He looks great physically, with a strong frame to accompany his other strong physical attributes. Prince’s size and his long arms would also help the Hawks improve a facet of their game that could always do with improvement — rebounding.

He’s exactly the kind of wing the Hawks need — defense, three-point shooting, defensive length (6’11.5 ft), legitimate size (6’8) — and I can envision him playing a significant role for the team next season. I’m a firm believer that he’s going to be a (possibly very) good defender, but it’s worth noting that Baylor did play a zone defense so we don’t have the full picture when it comes to Prince’s defense, but I have no reason to doubt it.

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Feature image: Source: Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America

In Part 1 of this Atlanta Hawks draft preview, we identified that given the nature of Kent Bazemore’s free agency (with the unprecedented spike in salary cap) and his Early Bird Rights, and given the Hawks’ lack of wing depth, the wing positions are in the most need of improvement in this draft. Now that we’ve identified what position the Hawks should look to draft in (here’s Part 1, in case you missed it), let’s go through some actual draft candidates.

But first, some house cleaning…

It’s worth mentioning before we start, today’s topic revolves around who the Hawks may select with the 21st overall selection, and not their two second round picks. Why are we only discussing their first round pick? It would just drag on forever if we go through second round prospects too…

When considering players, I’m making a conscious effort to find players that would “somewhat” fit in the Hawks system. So, players like Malachi Richardson — who’s probably not falling to 21 anyways — who love to shoot, play isolation, shoot, to not pass, shoot, kills the play, and shoot, I’m not including. There’s not many players like this (it’s mainly just Richardson, actually), but I thought it was worth mentioning. This may or may not have been an excuse to exclude Malachi Richardson…

I’m not including players who will clearly not be available at 21. When I say “clearly”, I mean the top prospects like Buddy Hield, Jaylen Brown — who are clearly being selected by lottery teams — not the Wade Baldwin’s and Deyonta Davis’ of the world, who may or may not be selected in the lottery. That should go without saying, but there’s always one person out there…

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