Ranking the Hawks Worst 2018 NBA Draft Decisions

Trae Young Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Trae Young Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images) /

With the 2018 NBA Draft in the books, the Atlanta Hawks made some… interesting decisions to say the least.

We’ve already provided plenty of rapid reactions, recaps of what happened as well as our draft grades, but below you’ll find the three worst decisions the Hawks made in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Warning: The Hawks made three picks and traded away one pick. Only one of their picks does not qualify for this list (Kevin Huerter at 19) and we’re still not so sure there weren’t better options there as well.

3. The Trae Young Trade

After much buildup and early indications that the Hawks would make the safe pick and select Luka Doncic 3rd overall, all of our hopes came crashing down as the team opted to trade back and take Trae Young at #5 overall.

Though we’ve defended the idea of the Hawks taking Young in the past, when the other option is Luka Doncic (which we never thought was possible until the buildup to the draft), the Hawks had to make the easy pick of Doncic, as he was one of the most (if not the most) decorated, polished and winningest European prospects of all time.

Instead, the Hawks – clearly led by a decision from GM Travis Schlenk – chose Trae Young.

He certainly set the NCAA on fire in the early portion of the college season, but he tailed off after carrying his team offensively night-in and night-out. Guess what? He’ll have to do the same as a member of the Hawks, so we’ll have to see if the rigors of an 82-game NBA season affect him adversely going forward.

Again, we feel that Trae Young will likely be a terrific player in the NBA, but the fact of the matter is the team whiffed on Luka Doncic, who has one of the highest floors in this draft, and if he lives up to his full potential, could be a transcendent player in the league for years to come.

Sure, Trae Young could be too, but the safer bet was Doncic, making the trade down from 3 to 5 the Hawks third-worst decision of the night.

2. Picking Omari Spellman

This was a head-scratching move, and one that prompted an F grade in our draft grades.

Spellman does not fit well at all with Second Team All-Rookie member John Collins, and this was also seemingly a stretch to take him at #30 overall – especially since the Hawks had a pick coming four slots later. Well, they did until…

1. The Trade of the 34th Pick

Here it is. This was the worst decision by the Hawks on draft night. While dumping Doncic for Trae Young was not perhaps not the wisest move in the long run, you can at least understand where Schlenk and co. were coming from.

For this move – trading the #34 overall pick to the Hornets for two future second rounders – there is almost no good reason why it happened. All you can say is at least they didn’t sell the pick outright for straight-up cash considerations; that would’ve only added insult to injury.

Though clearly the team is looking to accrue as many assets as possible (a la Philadelphia’s highly effective Process), tossing aside a very, very good second round pick in favor of two far, far worse picks in upcoming second rounds seems like a bonehead move no matter which way you slice it.

It’s doubtful that the Hawks would’ve uncovered a superstar-level talent at #34, but there were still plenty of tremendous options on the board at #34 overall that had tumbled way down draft boards such as Khyri Thomas, Keita Bates-Diop, Bruce Brown, Justin Jackson and Mitchell Robinson. Why not take a chance on one of them?

Next: Atlanta Hawks 2018 NBA Draft Grades

Only Travis Schlenk knows, but as it stands, the early returns on the 2018 NBA Draft for the Atlanta Hawks are not glowing. Time will tell, however, if these moves upend or extend what will continue to be an extensive Hawks rebuild.