Warriors of the East? Schlenk Gambles with Hawks 2018 Draft Picks

We’ve been very negative the past few days (apologies) regarding the Atlanta Hawks, but the draft really did not go the way we were hoping.

How about some positivity? By taking three players who can shoot and two that can pass and handle, have the Hawks created a younger version of the Warriors vaunted trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green?

Hawks GM Travis Schlenk’s background was as a member of the Golden State Warriors where he helped build one of the most highly regarded rosters of all time and won a championship with the team in 2015.

Schlenk must’ve learned a lot from his time there, as he has seemingly tried to implement the same sort of system by drafting similar players to those three members of the vaunted “Hamptons Five” lineup.

Steph was drafted 7th overall due to questions about his athleticism and frame, Trae Young, similarly would’ve like fallen to 6th overall had the Hawks not snapped him up at #5.

 

Kevin Huerter, a tall and lanky dead-eye marksman from the two guard position, was drafted at #19 overall, eight spots lower than where Klay was selected – though Huerter lacks Klay’s impressive defensive pedigree.

Draymond slipped out of the first round due to questions about his size, but that was prior the NBA’s movement towards smaller, more switchable lineups (brought about, funnily enough, by these same Warriors).

Omari Spellman would’ve likely fallen to the second round if the Hawks had not selected him with the final pick of the first round. Spellman projects to be a far better shooter than Draymond has ever been, but what about the overall comparison?

All three of those Warriors Hall of Famers have put in an immense amount of work to improve on both ends of the floor, though their innate skills (Draymond’s defensive wizardry, Klay’s stunning shooting numbers, Steph’s overall gravity, dribbling magic and insane long-range sniping) were already there when they were drafted – but in an embryonic state.

Through development, hard work and plenty of playoff seasoning, those players are some of the toughest in the league, and 2 of the 3 are some of the best defensive players in the league. Even Steph, long regarded as the weak defensive link on Golden State, did quite well at times against James Harden and even The King, LeBron James.

The three players the Hawks selected do not, in any way, project to be the defenders that the Warriors players are. When Spellman was picked at #30, there were still a few talented defenders on the board – De’Anthony Melton and Khyri Thomas spring to mind – though they lacked the size that Spellman provides.

Huerter is quite big, matching Klay’s 6-foot-7 height, but he lacks the length and size (Klay is 215 pounds, Huerter last weighed in at 195). He does have a solid frame, but he needs to add more muscle to it to fully reach his potential. Even still, his defensive instincts and nose for the ball on the less glamorous end are thoroughly lacking – clear indicators of his lack of polish on that end.

Trae Young might be the only player who actually somewhat lives up to the immense hype already heaped upon his shoulders. Though comparing him to Steph is a nearly impossible ideal, he actually comes in with better collegiate numbers than Curry compiled during three seasons at Davidson.

Young is the only player in history to lead the country in points and assists, something that Curry never accomplished during his time as a Davidson Wildcat.

TraeTL is regarded as one of the worst defenders in this draft class, but then again, so was Curry, so the comparison remains apt.

Look, we know it’s unlikely that the Hawks have just selected the next Steph Curry, as his unique skill set and transcendent shooting ability have changed the face of the NBA as we know it.

Though Atlanta may not have selected the next Steph, they certainly drafted the first Trae Young, and we’re excited to see exactly where this move takes the franchise. Summer League can’t get here soon enough!