Hawks

Baby Hawks Ready to Take Flight

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When a baby hawk first hatches from its egg, the hawk takes on the role of learning from its parent. Eventually, the baby hawk wants to turn into its mother, a fearsome bird always on the attack. For these Atlanta Hawks, going from the bottom of the pack in the East to the top is in their future. It certainly won’t be next year or the year after, but Lloyd Pierce and his gang are one of the fastest rising squads in the league. Despite finishing 29-53, there were many bright spots for the baby Hawks this season. Trae Young went from freezing cold start to a scorching hot second half of the season. John Collins continued to show improvement in his overall game, as he started busting out a jump shot. We even got a sneak peak of what a young Kevin Huerter combination will look like in the backcourt.

With Young, Huerter and Collins being a great core for the up-and-coming Hawks, there are still needs for a small forward and center in the lineup. Since the Hawks have both the 8th and 10th picks in this year’s draft, both can be used to complete the young Hawks lineup. Here are six players that could be in Hawks red when its their turn at 8 and 10.

8th Pick

Cam Reddish

Playing third fiddle to Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett, Reddish spent most of his season in the backseat to the two stars. Averaging 13.5 points on 36% from the field, he was used mainly as a spot up shooter as Zion and RJ had most of the offense go through them. Coming into the season, Reddish was seen as a player who would be a lock for the Top 5, but his stock has tanked a little bit over the course of the college season. Playing third fiddle did not help him, and his inconsistent production and effort makes me question his love of the game and whether he can always be locked in.

Reddish would be another on- and off-ball scorer for the Hawks. He would fit seamlessly in the lineup at the three, and would take scoring pressure off of Trae. With the teams picking above them, odds are good that Reddish will be available at No. 8.

Nassir Little

Speaking of prospects whose stocks have slid, Little suffered arguably the greatest slide of the season. Entering the year as one of the highest regarded prospects Roy Williams has had in years, Little never lived up to the billing. Putting up 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds for the Tar Heels, Little came off the bench as a sixth man. Williams has been known to make his freshmen work hard for minutes, but it was still surprising given how highly regarded Little was in high school. He relies on his athleticism too much, and needs to improve his three point shot. Standing at a somewhat undersized 6’6″ small forward, he offers versatility defensively with room to improve offensively.

Taking Little at either 8 or 10 would be seen as a bit of a reach. Based on his untapped potential, however, taking him at either spot could pay off in the long run. With him being undersized and poor outside shooting, I question his fit in the lineup. But if the Hawks are willing to take a risk, Little could be a huge reward for them.

Sekou Doumbouya

Entering the draft as the top ranked European prospect, Doumbouya put together a solid season for Limoges. Putting up 7.8 points in only 19 minutes per game, Doumbouya showed off great defensive instincts, as well as a developing jump shot. A hand injury brought Sekou’s season to an end after he tore ligaments in his right hand in a game against Boulazac. As a 6’9′ small forward weighing 210 pounds, bulking up is key for Doumbouya. His jump shot still has a bit of a way to go, but I believe he can develop into a tremendous 3-and-D small forward.

Slotting Doumbouya into this Hawks lineup would offer the team flexibility. He can guard 1-4 and offers off ball scoring. His fit might not be as smooth as Reddish’s, but his flexibility and high potential would greatly benefit the Hawks.

10th Pick

Jaxson Hayes

While Texas has had little to no postseason success, they have quietly developed into Center University for high school prospects. From Myles Turner to Jarrett Allen to Mo Bamba, Texas has been well represented.  Their next stud to join the league is Jaxson Hayes. Hayes showed immense potential as a profound rim-runner in Austin this year. Posting 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game showed that he could have a Clint Capela-type impact. He runs the floor extremely well and fits the fast-pace tempo. Hayes also shot a very impressive 74% from the free throw line. He needs to improve his post moves if he wants to be successful, but his athleticism will take him a long way.

A Young-Hayes pick and roll combination would be lethal. Collins and Hayes can fit together if Collins continues to develop his jumper. The Hawks would have a frontcourt full of athleticism in the two, and would cause problems for opposing teams.

Bol Bol

Since we are talking about centers, it’s only right that we talk about the mystery man of the draft. Bol started off his freshman year at Oregon sizzling hot. He then suffered a foot injury which later turned out to be a fracture. Bol had a great stat line of 21.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in Eugene. He is both an inside and outside player even though at times he tends to stay outside too much occasionally. He tested in at 7’2″ and at only 208 pounds, which is due to his recovery from his foot fracture. The impact Bol makes on defense is obvious, using his wingspan and height to impact anything and everything in the paint. Offensively, he uses his jump shot to scare defense on the outside, and utilizes his height for his game in the paint.

Inserting Bol into the lineup would bring another element to their offense. The Pick and Roll game with Trae would be deadly, using pick and rolls and pick and pops. Big men with foot injuries are most of the time a recipe for disaster, but if he checks out medically, Bol would fit great with Atlanta.

Goga Bitadze

If the Hawks are looking for an offensively minded center with solid defensive chops, meet Goga Bitadze. Bitadze posted a tremendous season for Buducnost VOLI. Averaging 12.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks, Bitadze is the safest of the center prospects. He showed potential as being a floor stretching center, as well as being able to be a two-way player on both ends of the court. Bitadze still needs to work mostly on he shot and defensive instincts. There are some times where he gets lost on defense during pick and rolls. Goga also tends to be foul prone occasionally, but that can be cut down once in the league.

Adding a center like Bitadze would be a great addition to the Hawks franchise. Similar to Bol, a Young-Bitadze pick and roll tandem would work extremely well. With the work he has to do on defense, however, it might lead to the Hawks being scared from having no truly great defenders in the lineup.

This draft for the Hawks is an extremely important one. After adding the 17th in the Taurean Prince trade, the Hawks could have a chance to add another lottery level talent that slips from the Top 14. Maybe someone like Kevin Porter Jr. or Tyler Herro would add more shooting to this team. Nailing these two picks in the Top 10, however, is a must for the Hawks.

There’s no question about it; these Baby Hawks are ready to take flight. But they won’t be able to soar to new heights unless Travis Schlenk nails this draft.

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