NBA Draft 2011: Atlanta Hawks Get Their Center, Still Have Moves to Make

John Boller@jboll0327Correspondent IJune 24, 2011

TULSA, OK - MARCH 18:  Keith Benson #34 of the Oakland Golden Grizzlies goes up for a shot against Alexis Wangmene #20 of the Texas Longhorns during the second round game of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at BOK Center on March 18, 2011 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The results of the 2011 NBA Draft are in and the Atlanta Hawks did not draft a guard. Instead, they drafted what the team needed the most, a center, in Oakland’s Keith Benson.

The 48th overall pick in this year’s draft was the only one that the Hawks had after trading away their first-round pick during the season in the Kirk Hinrich deal.

At least for now, the Hawks have addressed one of the team’s biggest issues.

Benson is a solid pick, as he was projected to be a low first-round to early second-round pick. He was the Summit League’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, the first time a player won both awards in the same year.

He averaged 17.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game. He is the league’s all-time leading shot blocker with 371, and is the first Summit League player to record more than 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds and 300 bucks.

He is just what the Hawks need, a solid defensive presence that can alter and block shots as well as be a consistent rebounder. At 6’11” and 230 pounds, Benson has same solid size, but he needs to add to his size and build up his strength, something the NBA developers should be able to do.

Now, with a legitimate center on the team, it is time for the Hawks to focus on their other issues, Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford and Kirk Hinrich.

Is it time to move Smith while he is still valuable, and should the Hawks allow Crawford to walk?

The answer to both of these questions is yes, absolutely.

The Hawks have gotten all they can from this current lineup, and it is time to try and change things up, see if we can seriously compete for the Eastern Conference and then, maybe, aim for the NBA Championship.

Another decision that the Hawks need to make is what to do with Kirk Hinrich.

Keep him!


Keep Kirk

We just got this guy, and traded away a first round pick from this year’s draft to do it. There is no need to try and move him. Unless a team is willing to give us the world for him, then it really is not worth it. He is a valuable point guard and shooting guard. We need Kirk.


Al Horford Is The Team

I am tired of seeing Al Horford having to wait for us to realize he is the future of our team. I am tired of seeing him having to play out of position and being kept from reaching his potential. The team is not Joe Johnson’s or Josh Smith’s. It is Horford’s.


Move Smith and Let Crawford Walk

I already stated it and I will say it again: move Smith and let Crawford walk. Both are fine players. Both have given their best to Atlanta. This is a business, and it is a business where winning titles is the company goal.

If we want that title, we have to bring in some fresh faces to the company.

I will miss Smith very much. He is a great athlete and an even better person. He has done tremendous things both on and off the court in Atlanta. It is not easy to say this, but it is what is necessary if Atlanta wants the Hawks still moving in the right direction.