Atlanta Hawks: One Big Mistake from 2018 NBA Draft

Mitchell Robinson against the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Mitchell Robinson against the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

A quick peek at one of the only major mistakes Atlanta Hawks General Manager Travis Schlenk has had in his tenure.

The 2018 NBA Draft was a huge boon for the Atlanta Hawks. Not only did they acquire the team’s backcourt of the future in Trae Young and Kevin Huerter, but that also picked up a future first round draft pick from the Dallas Mavericks as well as high-upside big man Omari Spellman.

However, the team also had a very desirable second round pick that landed at #34 overall. Instead of using the pick, they traded (a move we panned vociferously at the time) it for two future second-rounders to the Charlotte Hornets, who selected Devonte’ Graham with the pick.

While accruing more draft assets is almost always a favorable endeavor, in this case, the Atlanta Hawks whiffed mightily. Due to a rather deep draft, as well as the mistakes of many teams, lurking only two spots later at #36 overall was none other than Mitchell Robinson, the long-limbed athletic monster that has been patrolling the paint all season for the New York Knicks.

Knicks fans have taken to Mitch strongly because, beyond him, there is very little to root for on this Knicks team, other than the potential future of having Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (and even Zion Williamson) on the roster next year.

Robinson’s incredible effort on the defensive end, as well as his absurd block numbers would make him an absolutely perfect fit on an Atlanta Hawks team that desperately needs a defensive identity and rock-solid rim protection. Robinson would’ve provided both had they taken him in the second round.

Just so we have it, Robinson is currently 4th in total blocks on the season (170) and 2nd in blocks per game (2.5) – behind only Myles Turner. Robinson would be #1 across the entire league in block rate at 10.5 percent (an insane number), but he does not qualify due to only playing 1203 minutes in 61 games this season.

Perhaps one of the reasons why has played so sparingly is because he is an absolute fouling machine. According to Basketball Reference, per-36 minutes, Robinson is fouling 5.9 times per game. Extrapolate that further to per 100 possessions and you have an insane 7.9 fouls per game. Wild.

Next. Trae Young, Luka Doncic: Co-Rookies of the Year. dark

The Atlanta Hawks desperately need a long-term option at center that can serve as the team’s defensive fulcrum to go along with Trae Young’s work as the offensive fulcrum. Robinson, who just turned 21 years old 2 days ago, would’ve fit that bill. That he was available in the second round, where the Atlanta Hawks could’ve (and should’ve) taken him only adds insult to injury.