The Atlanta Hawks are set to have six total picks in the 2019 NBA Draft. How does the Anthony Davis trade affect their ability to trade up?
Even before the Atlanta Hawks were able to make a trade with the Brooklyn Nets for the No. 17 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the organization was looking to make a move up in the pecking order. They have six picks overall this year now, but are looking for any and all willing trade partners.
Teams on the radar for the Hawks to trade up with prior to the Los Angeles Lakers’ trade for Anthony Davis were the Lakers, New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers. Multiple mocks had R.J. Barrett going to the Knicks and at least one of Jarrett Culver and De’Andre Hunter being selected by the Lakers or Cavs.
But with the New Orleans Pelicans now owning the No. 4 pick instead of the Lakers, picks 4-10 could be nowhere near what anyone imagined after the draft lottery took place. The Hawks are looking to move up between picks No. 3-5 with their current draft capital, so let’s take a look at the possibility of each of those moves post-Anthony Davis trade.
If the Davis trade wasn’t all but set it stone, I would consider the Hawks trading up with the Knicks a possibility still. However, with the Knicks no longer having a shot at Davis, they need as big of a prospect as they can get, especially if they want to lure in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker or Jimmy Butler.
While the Knicks could still trade this pick, it would likely take all three first round picks from the Hawks to do so. The Knicks may not come out on the good side of that deal in the long run and the Hawks may not want to give up that much draft capital to move up five spots.
Plus, it seems as though R.J. Barrett only wants to play for one specific team.
It makes sense though. While De’Andre Hunter and Jarrett Culver are great in their own right, R.J. Barrett still has an edge above both and has the potential to be the face of the franchise — something the Knicks desperately need right now.
Things get more interesting if the Hawks decide to swing a deal with the Pelicans. After trading Davis away, they’ll be able to pair Zion Williamson with not only Jrue Holiday, but Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball too. Holiday gets to take his natural 2-guard spot alongside Ball, and Ingram will create havoc on the boards with Williamson.
So with pick No. 4 in tow now as well, the Pels could easily stand pat and add a stellar 3-and-D wing in De’Andre Hunter or Jarrett Culver, or drop back to add even more young talent to this squad to all grow together.
If the pick does hit the market, the Hawks better make sure they are first in line. The No. 8 and 17 picks would be quick to go and it’s safe to assume the Pelicans would ask for No. 10 or one of the Hawks’ protected firsts over the next year or two.
Giving that much up could be worth it to general manage Travis Schlenk and company, creating a win-win for both teams. The Hawks would be able to better cover up their defensive inadequacies as a team with either Hunter or Culver at No. 4, and the Pelicans would continue to stockpile both young talent and more draft capital.
However, the Pelicans may even entertain the idea of trading away Lonzo Ball if the right deal comes for him. The Phoenix Suns and Chicago Bulls are both desperate for a point guard. Could they be interested in Ball’s services over the lottery picks of Darius Garland or Coby White?
Depending on what those trade packages would look like, the Pelicans could end up being the perfect trade partner for the Hawks, or push the organization to just one ideal trade partner instead of two or three.
The Cavaliers look to be in the same boat as the Pels in a way. They don’t have a once-a-generation type of player to draft this year (they’ve already done that), but they are in need of a big youth infusion as a team loaded with veterans and difficult contracts.
The Hawks could easily offer up the No. 8 or No. 10 with No. 17 or their second round picks to move up to No. 5. They could even offer to take some bad contracts off Cleveland’s hands, since they’re one of the few teams in the league that still has cap flexibility right now.
But if the Hawks do want pick No. 5, they should expect some competition. Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated went into details of each pick in his latest mock draft and included other teams the Hawks need to keep an eye on for the No. 5 pick:
"“Speculatively, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Cavs looked to trade down from this spot, either, given they’re positioned in front of the guard-needy Suns and Bulls, and now there are scenarios firmly in play where Darius Garland and Coby White are both available at No. 5. They could conceivably move down incrementally and still end up with someone they like.”"
The Hawks will have competition for moving up with guard-needy teams, and other teams behind them like the Washington Wizards or Charlotte Hornets may try to move up as well. However, Atlanta has the draft capital the other teams don’t — it’s just a matter of how much of it the Hawks are willing to give up.
In talking to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Schlenk is open to a lot of options.
"“What we are finding with this draft is there is a lot of depth to it,” Schlenk said. “You might see that guys one team has in the top 10, another has in the 20s. It’s really a beauty in the eye of the beholder deal. We like a lot of the guys there. We like to have the opportunity to have different stabs at it.”"
Fellow AJC writer Michael Cunningham gets the same impression. Hunter and Culver are ideal targets, but it doesn’t appear that Schlenk is desperate for them either:
"“Then again, Schlenk said this draft ‘has a lot of depth to it’ and that he would ‘like the opportunity to have three different stabs at it’ in the first round. Schlenk’s track record in the draft shows he can find good players later in the first round. One way or another, it’s key for the Hawks come out of this draft with a long and skilled wing player to pair with Young."
If the Atlanta Hawks have Jarrett Culver and De’Andre Hunter as their two main targets with a big gap between them and the rest of their board, a trade up is inevitable; the cost is the only question.
The Pelicans trading away Anthony Davis does seems to give the Hawks more options, but they could stand pat or explore other trade avenues. We also shouldn’t be surprised if the Hawks stand pat and the let the draft come to them, or even trade back to stockpile even more future assets.