Does Hawks Travis Schlenk Know Something We Don’t?

Trae Young Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Stephen Pellegrino/NBAE via Getty Images)
Trae Young Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Stephen Pellegrino/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The NBA Draft finished up late last night for the Atlanta Hawks, with Woj finding every way possible not to spoil draft picks (while still actually spoiling the picks).

The Hawks were armed with 4 selections in the draft, choosing Trae Young at 5 (after trading with Dallas), Kevin Huerter at 19, Omari Spellman at 30 and then traded pick No. 34 to Charlotte for two future second round picks.

If you’re left feeling extremely unsatisfied after that haul, no one’s going to blame you. Take a stroll to the twitter mentions of almost any Atlanta Hawks tweet last night and you’ll see how the fan base feels about what went down.

Taking Omari Spellman is a bit of a question mark with so much talent left on the board. Guys like Melvin Frazier and De’Anthony Melton held first round grades on almost every draft board and had fallen all the way to 30.

Trading out of the 34th pick is puzzling due to the extreme depth of this draft class. Yes, second round picks are more like throwing darts at a dart board but getting two unknown commodities in later drafts down the road might not be as useful as taking talented players now.

More from Soaring Down South

But we’re not here to discuss those late acquisitions or the perfectly fine pick of Huerter, who can shoot the lights out of the ball but can’t play a lick of defense (this will be a recurring theme). We’re here for what happened at the top of the draft.

Rumors had been swirling all week that Atlanta was looking to trade down and get their man Trae Young. Young was a sensation out of Oklahoma, having great range from deep and underrated passing skills.

Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that Dallas and Atlanta were talking but talks had stalled. Dallas was unwilling to swap the Kent Bazemore and Wesley Matthews contracts as well as add in a pick.

That was an extremely worrying sign, as that seemed like a meager return for what would be a European superstar in Luka Doncic. We all took a sigh of relief as Woj and Shams were pretty adamant that Atlanta was asking for a hefty price tag and it felt like a deal wouldn’t get done.

But, as we all know, Stein soon reported that a deal had been made and Atlanta traded the 3rd pick for Dallas’ 2019 Top-5 protected first round pick and the 5th pick. For all the Doncic fans watching (of which we were members), this seemed a little ridiculous. Dallas wasn’t willing to take on a bit more salary and give up a pick for the most accomplished European prospect in NBA history, so Atlanta simply relented and took the salary away and just needed a protected first.

In Schlenk’s eyes this trade was perfect. He ended up getting the guy he wanted in Trae Young and picked up a pretty valuable asset next year. For almost every other analyst, NBA scout/GM and fan this is a massive gamble that could come back to haunt Atlanta like Chris Paul and Pau Gasol still do.

Trae Young was great last year at Oklahoma, and early on, he was on pace for one of the greatest statistical seasons in College Basketball. In about mid-January his efficiency dropped significantly and the toll of having to carry a talent-deprived Oklahoma team started to wear on him.

In the NBA, he won’t have to worry about carrying such a load with such limited players around him, but he’s only 6’1″ and needs to pack on a lot of muscle to get an NBA-ready body. His defense is also going to be a problem probably for his entire career in the NBA. The selections of Huerter and Spellman only compound Young’s lack of polish on that end.

Taking a guy like Young would be fine if Doncic wasn’t on the board. The dude won MVPs and titles playing in the second-best league in the world, dominating other former NBA and college stars.

Must Read: Ranking the Hawks Worst 2018 NBA Draft Decisions

He’s only 19, has great size and brings everything to the table Young does besides the 3-point range. We have to really hope Schlenk isn’t trying to find the next pair of Splash Brothers like he did at Golden State.

Steph Curry is a once-in-a-lifetime shooter while Klay and Draymond have dogged defensive instincts. He can’t realistically think that can be replicated, and if that is truly Schlenk’s dream here, I’m afraid he’s taken a massive oversight.

By the way, the Dallas pick isn’t super valuable. Because of its top-5 protection if Doncic, Barnes or Smith get injured early on, Dallas will simply tank like nobody’s business again, finish with a bottom 5 or worse record and we don’t get the pick.

A starting lineup of Dennis Smith Jr., Doncic, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes and maybe Dirk isn’t terrible. The question here is would you have traded Doncic for Trae Young and the 9th pick? 10th? 11th? The fact that its protected is ridiculous.

Next: Atlanta Hawks 2018 NBA Draft Grades

Travis Schlenk is an NBA GM who helped build one of the greatest teams in NBA History. He might know something the rest of the NBA doesn’t. We better pray that he does.