If you have followed the Atlanta Hawks rise over the past several years under Coach Mike Woodson, you have to be still suffering from the blitzing that the Orlando Magic put on the the Hawks in May (see above picture).
If you mix a headful of those dreadful playoff memories with a pinch of hiring Larry Drew as the "new voice" to replace Woodson. Add a dash of cost-cutting and "For Sale" signs by the Atlanta Spirit ownership group gives you a recipe for a disastrous 2010 off-season.
Okay, so here comes the draft. Hawks fans have little to hope for in this draft. All of a sudden the Hawks' roster needs are many and the weaknesses are glaring.
What are the needs? The Hawks need a legitimate inside presence, because Zaza Pachulia appeared to check out on Woodson. At one point in late April, I would have taken Kurt Thomas from Milwaukee.
The Hawks need a scoring guard with size in case Joe Johnson leaves for another team. In my opinion the Jeff Teague pick last year was a mistake. Because of this the Hawks also need help at the point guard spot.
The Hawks have the 24th pick in the 1st round and the 53rd pick in round 2. Here are six quality players that might be available for Atlanta in tomorrow night's draft:
James Anderson from Oklahoma State . Anderson has the prototypical size for an NBA scoring guard. He might be a shade smaller than his listed 6'6 inches, but he is a strong guard. He is an underrated playmaker who knows how to score. If Anderson is still on the board at 24, the Hawks are going to get a steal.
Devin Ebanks from West Virginia . If I were in the Hawks war room tomorrow night, I would be screaming for the Hawks to take Ebanks. This guy has to be one of the most underrated players in the 2010 NBA draft. Ebanks's upside is tremendous. He can handle the ball and his shooting stroke is smooth. He looks like a guy who can extend his range with NBA coaching and workouts.
I also like that Ebanks played for Bob Huggins at West Virginia. Huggins coaches players hard. That should make Ebanks more ready for the demands of the NBA. Ebanks is an above average rebounder with length. If Anderson is off the board, the Hawks should take this guy.
Solomon Alabi from Florida State . The Hawks need someone who can start at the center position so Al Horford can move over to the power forward. Alabi is a very good free throw shooter, which means that he can improve on his shooting touch and low-post game.
Alabi is from Nigeria, which might scare off some teams. As a player he can protect the rim next year for the Hawks. Alabi is ranked by most as an early 2nd round pick, but the Hawks' need overrides the projections.
In the 2nd round the Hawks pick 53rd. Here are three players that might be available and could be surprising NBA success stories:
Greivis Vasquez from Maryland . Vasquez may be gone by this pick, but he is going to be a very good NBA player. His size and passing ability would be a big upgrade at the point position for Atlanta. He has the instincts for running a team. He is a natural point guard. Drafting him might free up the Hawks to package Jeff Teague in a trade deal this summer.
Luke Harangody from Notre Dame . There are big injury questions with Harangody, but this guy knows how to score points. He put up huge numbers in the tough Big East conference. He probably will have a hard time guarding on the perimeter, but the Hawks need someone that goes to the boards and can make perimeter shots.
Harangody reminds me of guys like Brian Cardinal and Matt Bonner. Those players are solid NBA players that are rotation guys for playoff teams. Harangody might be one of those guys that becomes a fan favorite and a player perfect for clutch situations.
Jarvis Varnado from Mississippi State . Varnado is the all-time leader in the NCAA in blocked shots. His offensive game is raw, though. The Hawks could do worse with the 53rd pick, though.
He is only 6'9 and slightly built, but his wingspan allows him to guard bigger players. His defensive skills can take some of the pressure of Horford in the post. Varnado's athleticism is going to land him on an NBA roster and garner him some minutes as a rookie.