The 2010 NBA Draft just concluded, and it was a bumpy ride for the Atlanta Hawks and their fans. One minute you are wondering what GM Rick Sund is doing. Then, the next minute you are praising Sund as a genius and waiting with anticipation to see which big man the Hawks would add in the early second round.
Later in the draft you are just bewildered, dazed, and confused by the name "Pape Sy." Stuart Scott from ESPN joked that he was not a one name player. I wish he were Nene or even Pele for that matter.
Here are the Hawks draft picks and moves from earlier tonight and a quick, knee-jerk reaction to each pick:
Draft Pick: With the 24th pick, the Hawks selected Damion James, a 6'7" forward from Texas.
Reaction: I thought that Billy Knight had stormed the castle and hijacked the Hawks' draft war room. Rick Sund was channeling Knight's penchant for taking forwards that all seem to play the same position. Damion James is a smaller, poor man's Marvin Williams. He is a less athletic Josh Smith without any upside.
Immediately, I thought that drafting James might mean the Hawks were going to trade Josh Smith for another big-name player. Maybe package him with Jeff Teague for Chris Paul. I know, I know. I promise to stop mentioning the Hawks getting CP3. Not going to happen.
Draft Pick: With the 27th pick, the New Jersey Nets take Jordan Crawford, a scoring guard from Xavier. Immediately after the pick is made, ESPN's Andy Katz reports that Crawford is going to be dealt to the Hawks for James. The Hawks also picked up the Nets' second round pick, which was the 31st overall pick.
Reaction: Near jubilation. Crawford is a perfect fit for the Hawks. Admittedly, his jump shot is a little weird looking with that funky release point and flying elbow, but he can score and he can finish at the rim. No matter what anyone says, he totally pulverized LeBron James with a dunk last summer.
If Joe Johnson leaves in July through free agency, Crawford can play minutes right away in the backcourt. I could see him playing a lot of minutes with Jamal Crawford at the point. If Super Joe stays, Crawford is a legitimate backup that could help coach Larry Drew limit Joe's minutes and keep him fresher for the 2011 playoffs.
Picking up the 31st pick in the trade looked like a stroke of genius by Sund. The Hawks desperately need a young, athletic seven-footer. They could have picked up a very good project with the 31st pick. I was jacked up with expectation of the Hawks getting an "A" draft grade from national media types and deserving it.
Draft Pick: Hawks draft Tibor Pleiss with the 31st pick. Watching the highlights of this 7'2" German, I just laughed out of frustration. The gym was a middle school gym—not a middle school gym from 2010, one from 1956. Gene Hackman was coaching the opposing team (obligatory Hoosiers reference).
There were so many solid players that they could have taken with this pick. The Hawks could have gone local and taken Gani Lawal from Georgia Tech. They passed on some other players with first round talent for this guy? Ugh.
Reaction: Hawks trade Tibor's rights to Oklahoma City for cash. Okay, I guess the franchise definitely needs the money, but this seems like a big opportunity wasted. Sund is gambling here that someone he wants is going to be left when the Hawks draft at number 53.
Draft Pick: Pape Sy from France or Senegal—I was confused about his country of origin. I was more confused when ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla seemed flabbergasted and came with the fact the Sy only averaged six points per game in a mediocre French league.
Reaction: Sund's gamble does not pay off. As guys like Solomon Alabi, Luke Harangody, Jerome Jordan, and others came off the board, the Hawks must have been panicking. Supposedly, Sy had a great workout or something, but that is what European guys do. They have great workouts and then they never play a minute in the NBA. The Hawks could have taken Stanley Robinson from Connecticut among others.
Drafting Pape Sy is like taking a flyer on an unknown and risky stock. Maybe a penny stock. You take the flyer because if it works out you look really smart. Smarter than everyone else. But, how often do those risks pan out?
I give the Hawks a "B" grade for this draft. Jordan Crawford is a steal picking this late in the draft. I had him going much earlier with the Hawks maybe having a chance at James Robinson from Oklahoma State.
Missing out on drafting another first round type player with the first pick in the second round seems like a big mistake. Compound that with drafting a player that probably will never play in the NBA and you get a grade of just above average.
Really, nothing has changed for the Atlanta Hawks and their fans. Milwaukee is going to be better. The Bulls and the Miami Heat are going to be better. Keeping up with these teams with huge cap space is a tough road to travel.
Signing Joe Johnson is the key to everything. If Joe goes, the Hawks will be back struggling just to make the playoffs.