Looking for a Keeper

Monday, June 20, 2011
By Jon Newberry

The Hawks will have to be patient on Thursday night, waiting for 47 other picks to be made before they are, as they say, “on the clock.” With no first round pick the expectations for this draft are different for Atlanta, but that doesn’t mean the effort put into the player evaluation has been any less thorough.

“The workload is the same,” explained the Hawks Assistant General Manager Dave Pendergraft. “Obviously the pressure is a little bit different because there’s not a guaranteed contract involved. With anything that you spend all year doing and the ammount of time you do it, you want to make the right decision. We aren’t approaching this like there is luck involved. We’re approaching this like this is our pick and this is somebody we expect to make our team.”

With a pick as late as 48 it is tough to predict what types of players will still be available, much less a specific name. For that reason it is likely the Hawks will take the “best available” talent rather than try to fill a specific need on the roster.

“I think you look at both,” commented Hawks GM Rick Sund, refusing to commit 100 percent to either strategy. “You look at a need you might have and the best talent. You equate it and see if the talent is significantly better than the need… if it’s close you take the need.”

And what type of player would be an ideal addition to the Hawks?

“I think we’d like to get a little tougher,” Sund concluded. “Hinrich helped us in that area and it kind of trickled down to some of the other players.”

In the past the Hawks have been conservative with their second round pick. Under the current rules second-rounders are not guaranteed a spot on the team or any sort of contract. Many teams, including the Hawks, draft foreign players, and then use the European leagues or the D-League to give players time to develop without committing much financially.With plenty of roster spots open due to free agency, the Hawks are most likely going to use their pick to add a player that will make the team this season.

“A lot of teams go the European route,” admitted Sund. “We did when we had a first round pick. I doubt if we’ll do that now.”

While there is excitement that comes with conducting workouts with high-profile players that are expecting to be lottery picks, there is one residual benefit to having such a late pick. Pendergraft explains:

“Every player thinks they’re going higher than they go. No matter what round. In the past when we’ve been here sitting in the late-teens or twenties… you bring guys to your gym and you know in the back of their mind they’re thinking ‘I’m not dropping that far.’ Now we got guys that are coming in…they know they’re second-rounders and it doesn’t matter where you go in the second round because it’s all the same. It’s been refreshing. The guys that have come in here have busted their tail. It’s been fun to watch. It’s been highly competitive and they are just happy to be here. They just want to get drafted.”

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