Mr. Sund please do not take Jeff Teague. Please take Sam Young, or Eric Maynor, or even B.J. Mullens.
The NBA is fantastic. Last night’s game between the LA Lakers and the Orlando Magic was as good as it gets in the NBA. The game had a great flow and the players were able to cut and move offensively without being grabbed and hand checked. Over the past ten years, I have been steadily changing from a college basketball guy to an NBA guy. The NBA level of play in the past few years has been scintillating.
Watching the game makes me excited for the Atlanta Hawks draft and free agent season this summer. The rumors that Joe Johnson wants to test the free agent market are disturbing, but summer 2010 is a long way off. I want to focus on the positives going into the draft.
In this article, I take the players from number 15-24 in CNN sportswriter Ian Thomsen’s most recent NBA mock draft, and break down how these players could fit in with the Hawks next season. All of these players have a reasonable shot at being available for the Hawks to select with the 19th pick in the 2009 draft.
B.J. Mullens: I am an Ohio guy, so I have been hearing about Mullens for a few years. I am a skeptic, but the recent measurements coming out of the Chicago pre-draft camp have made me rethink this. Mullens is big, very big.
The big questions are his heart, desire, work ethic, and rebounding ability. He barely averaged five rebounds per game at Ohio State this year. However, he also scored better once he started playing the Big Ten conference season.
I have flipped on Mullens and if he is available at 19, the Hawks have to take him. The Hawks could bring him along slowly, but eventually he could start along side Al Horford inside. That front line would be good enough in time to win a conference title.
Earl Clark: Honestly, I do not know much about Clark or the Louisville team. I like his size and that he played in the Big East. From some research, he kind of reminds me of Rashard Lewis with his size and offensive ability facing the basket. With the probable return of Marvin Williams, the Hawks are solid at the small forward position.
Eric Maynor: He is the best of the point guards who still will be on the board at this time of the draft. Maynor’s stock seems to have slipped because of his weight, but that does not make any sense to me. NBA teams are not beating people posting up their point guards. Maynor is big and has the wingspan to cause havoc on the defensive end.
He is not going to wow anyone with his jump shot, but he knows how to run a team and create scoring opportunities for teammates. The Hawks need a point guard desperately, but they need someone that can play right away. He is a four-year player who can step in right away and play 20-25 minutes for the Hawks off the bench.
Austin Daye: Daye probably has the most upside of any player outside of the lottery. He seems most comfortable playing on the perimeter. He looks about as solid as Tayshaun Prince in ninth grade. Prince has defensive skills to guard and Daye is more noted for his offensive game. The scary part is that he could either end up being a Dirk Nowitzki or a Jonathan Bender. I pass on Daye if I am Hawks GM Rick Sund.
Jeff Teague: Ian Thomsen has the Hawks taking Teague with the 19th pick. Please, Mr. Sund, do not listen to this advice. Teague is an undersized shooting guard. These guys always have a hard time transitioning to point guard in the NBA. He had some monster games early in the college season, but faded quickly at the end. You could argue that Wake Forest was one of the most underachieving teams in college basketball this year.
Sam Young: A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about how great Young would be in a Hawks uniform. His stock is rising. Young has the desire and hunger to be a great NBA player. He can be a tough perimeter defender and he was the best player on the court in Pittsburgh’s NCAA tourney games this year. If Maynor and Young are still on the board, this selection would be tough in my war room. I take Young over Maynor.
James Johnson: The play that Johnson made to score on the out of bounds underneath play against Duke was remarkable. He has great ball skills and hands for a man his size, but the size might be a problem. He is not really big enough to play power forward and not svelte enough to play on the perimeter.
He could turn out to be a reincarnation of Charles Barkley, though. He has shooting range and touch to stretch the defense. I would like to see him in an individual work out, because he seems to have great footwork in the post. Again, the Hawks are too solid at the forward position to take Johnson.
Gani Lawal: Hawks need to avoid Gani Lawal at all costs. Thomsen calls him a long term project. I watched a ton of Georgia Tech games this year and was not impressed with any part of Lawal’s game. He is long and somewhat defensive minded, but to me he is a second rounder in this draft.
Derrick Brown: This guy is another wild card. In this draft, there seems to be more guys without defined positions or games going in the first round. Brown is intriguing because he is so athletic and he is NBA strong. He projects as a small forward. I like Marvin, Josh Childress, and even Josh Smith better. If the Hawks were going to trade J-Smoove, I would still probably look for someone else with the 19th pick.
Tyler Hansbrough: “Psycho T” has been rising on the draft boards and it is all do to his surprising measurements from the pre-draft camp. He actually is the height and weight that Carolina has been putting in the program...only an inch or so shorter than Blake Griffin.
The problem for Hansbrough is speed. Getting up and down the floor, moving the feet on defense, and quick jumping does not seem to be his forte. The great part is that as a GM, you know what you are getting.
Hansbrough’s effort will earn fans wherever he goes in the draft. He probably will be very coachable, do what he is told to do, and go hard to both boards. He might also fight you in games and in practice. The Hawks need the fire, that is for sure. He might light a fire under someone in practice and they might be a better player for it (J-Smoove). He also can play power forward if Sund continues to believe and claim that Al Horford is a center, ugh.