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Old 06-29-2007, 11:18 PM   #1
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Default Real gm article on Draft

Hawks Draft Selections Fall Short
Authored by Patrick J. Austin - June 29, 2007 - 9:42 pm

The Atlanta Hawks were, for once, the focal point of attention leading up to the draft. With Greg Oden and Kevin Durant firmly cemented as the top two selections, everyone believed the draft really began at no.3, where the Hawks resided. Numerous trade scenarios were bandied about involving our beloved birds. Virtually every indication pointed to a big move on the horizon; a blockbuster trade that would completely change the course of this embattled franchise; a dramatic alteration to the roster complimenting a dramatic alteration to the uniforms. Essentially, a new day in Atlanta.

But all the rumor mill churning and speculation was for not. Alas, the Hawks failed to consummate any big trade and decided to stick with the status quo keeping both the no.3 and no. 11 picks. With those selections, Billy Knight played it safe by selecting proven college players in Al Horford of Florida and Acie Law IV of Texas A&M. Of course, the question is…will these players really help the Hawks, or is this another bungled draft by Billy Knight?

The answer, in the humble opinion of this writer, is the latter. I was really disappointed in the selections of Horford and Law, in conjunction with the agony of seeing so many big name players “possibly going to Atlanta” but nothing ever coming to fruition.

The biggest of the big name players I am referring to is Amare Stoudemire. His potential arrival to Hotlanta made many Hawk fans salivate at the prospect of a JJ-Amare reunion. The thought of landing one of the best young big men in the game for our draft picks was almost too much for my mental cortex to absorb. It just seemed too good to be true. And, of course, it was exactly that…too good to be true.

Apparently, the trade fell through at the last minute, but the reasoning behind the breakdown is still unclear. One side speculates that Atlanta and Minnesota were privately discussing a way to get Kevin Garnett to Phoenix. The deal would have sent KG to to the Suns, the no. 3 and 11 picks to Minnesota (with cap fillers), and Amare Stoudemire to the Hawks. But all the while, Steve Kerr – the Suns new general manager – and Mike D’Iantoni were kept out of the loop. Once they were informed of this proposed deal, they rejected it flat out and boldly proclaimed Stoudemire as “off limits.”

The other side says a deal was agreed to, in principle, but Steve Belkin, our diabolical quasi-co-owner, refused to sign off on the deal due to financial concerns. No one knows what really happened, but I can tell you if Belkin vetoed a trade that would have landed us Amare Stoudemire, I’d call a “Luca Brasi” type to handle the situation asap.

So here we are now—no big name star and two more rookies to add to our already young roster.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Al Horford is Shelden Williams version 2.0. Don’t believe me? Check out the scouting report done by on both players…

Shelden Williams:
Burly power forward with a no nonsense approach ... Great experience, 4 years at Duke has given him a strong foundation with a great skill level and solid fundamentals ... Extremely strong body ... Deceptively quick and athletic ... Sticks to playing in the post, where he dominates on the NCAA level ... Tremendous wingspan allows him to play like a 7 footer ... A real defensive presence, a shot blocker who won national defensive player of the year as a junior ... Averages close to 4 blocks per game as a senior ... Should be able to guard centers in the NBA ... Great rebounding ability, boxes out well ... Posts up well and uses his strength well to score ... His post moves have really developed well in his 4 years at Duke, including hooks and drop steps ... Touch around the basket is good and converts well after contact

Al Horford:
Runs extremely well, able to beat most forwards down the court … Is blessed with an NBA ready body and good strength … Defensively Horford is a very strong post defender able to use his body strength to disrupt opposing players from setting up … Solid shot blocker thanks to his timing and great anticipation skills … Attacks the basket with aggression and power … A surprising ball handler and passer for his size. Is physical in the low post and does a good job of drawling fouls from opposing defenders. Usually he is able to use his upper body strength and finish after contact … Really makes a big impact on the glass where he uses his body strength to box out.

Horford was a redundant pick if there ever was one. And that’s not even mentioning the infamous streak Billy Knight is on selecting forwards with our top picks for the past four years.

Now, onto Acie Law…

I guess the rumors of Atlanta making a promise to Law were true. This pick makes a bit more sense than Horford since Law is a backcourt player who can play alongside Joe Johnson. Of course, Law isn’t exactly the pass-first floor general we so desperately need. In fact, many people say he’s a shooting guard in a point guard’s body. I hope this assertion isn’t true considering we’ve already been through that during the Jason Terry era.

Yes indeed, the Hawks passed up on the best point guard prospect (Mike Conley, Jr.) in yet another draft. And the prospect of Conley falling to no.11 was quickly dashed when Memphis wisely selected him with the no.4 pick (immediately after the Hawks). Memories of Deron Williams’ named being called right after Marvin Williams are starting to creep into my head.

So can Horford and Law make a difference to the Hawks? That’s the million dollar question with no clear-cut answer. What is clear is that the Hawks are probably going to remain in the doldrums of the NBA for at least another season. Pinning your hopes on two rookies to make an immediate impact in the two most difficult positions in the NBA is never good. Don’t get me wrong, I think we’ll improve from last season. Heck, maybe we’ll even sniff .500. But are we a serious playoff threat? Not yet. And Billy Knight’s “rebuilding process” goes on…
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