The Atlanta Hawks are becoming genuine contenders for the title of most secretive organization in the league. On a night where Twitter was alight with picks being revealed by the likes of Adrian Wojnarowski and Chad Ford, as Adam Silver made his way to the podium for the 15th time time, the identity of the Hawks’ first-round selection was still unknown. General manager Danny Ferry‘s radio silence led to the addition of Adreian Payne, and later Walter Tavares and Lamar Patterson, to the approval of most Atlanta fans.
The Hawks have a desperate need for greater depth on the wings, but with Ferry stockpiling talent up front in this draft, with the exception of Patterson, it looks like Atlanta will look to free agency to fill that void. In Payne, the Hawks selected a guy who can be a difference-maker straight away, while Tavares is a physical anomaly that the team can stash in Europe.
With Al Horford and Paul Millsap the clear front-runners to start up front right now, the Hawks are doing a great job at putting the foundations in place for their future frontcourt. Having taken Lucas Nogueira and Mike Muscala last year, the additions of Payne and Tavares create a log jam of young guys up front for the Hawks, but offers the potential for this to develop into an embarrassment of riches.
Adreian Payne is an equally exceptional character and basketball player. The 23-year-old’s journey to the NBA hasn’t necessarily been the easiest, but through loss and adversity the Ohio native remained determined and dignified. Not only has Payne had to deal with a long-term respiratory condition, but also the recent death of eight-year-old Lacey Holsworth, a cancer patient that Payne had befriended and supported for a few years.
In terms of his skill set, Payne should be able to slot right in in Atlanta though. Payne will provide the Hawks with toughness, and a strong desire to win. He is an excellent rebounder, having averaged 7.3 rebounds per game last year, while his ability to stretch the floor as a 43 percent three-point shooter will no doubt have appeal to the Hawks. Payne’s potential to be a real two way presence in the NBA makes him a really smart pick.
Having got their hands on some concrete NBA ready talent in the first round with Payne, the Hawks were able to take a few more risks in the second round. Tavares is an incredibly exciting prospect for Atlanta, although he may not come stateside immediately. At 7″2′ , with a 7″9′ wingspan, Tavares is a highly skilled and freakishly large prospect who could in time prove to be a home run pick by Atlanta.
Then, just when it seemed like the Hawks were done, Ferry sprung a surprise. The Milwaukee Bucks had selected Pittsburgh’s Lamar Patterson with the 48th pick, only for him to be traded to Atlanta for a future second-rounder. Patterson is a versatile, and talented swingman who’s capable of doing a little bit of everything. If he can grow and develop under the stewardship of the Hawks player development team, he could prove to be a real steal.
Overall, it was a busy night for Atlanta, and a productive one too. The Hawks achieved the type of balance that all teams strive for on draft night, picking up a guy who can contribute now, along with a couple of raw prospects to help develop into the future. All in all, a successful night for the Atlanta Hawks.