Atlanta Hawks: 4 Big Names Hawks Should Consider in Free Agency

Kevin Durant #35 and Klay Thompson Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kevin Durant #35 and Klay Thompson Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Hawks
Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Orlando Magic Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Nikola Vucevic

First and foremost, the Atlanta Hawks need a defensive-minded center that can protect the rim on defense and step out to the three-point line on offense. Of course, every team in the NBA is looking for that player archetype and Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic is among the best on the market this summer as he hits unrestricted free agency at just the right time.

Vooch is having a career year, and he was encouragingly named to his first All-Star team. Though some might scoff at the watered-down Eastern Conference, his numbers this year are absurdly good and he was definitely a deserving All-Star choice.

In ESPN’s Real Plus/Minus metric, Vucevic ranks as the 8th-best player in the entire league with a 5.36 RPM, which is just behind LeBron James. Among centers, that RPM is second only to likely First Team All-NBA center Nikola Jokic. Vooch scores highly when separating his Offensive RPM and Defensive RPM as well. In ORPM, Vucevic trails only Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid, and in DRPM, he is behind only Rudy Gobert, Tyson Chandler and Hassan Whiteside.

To be Top 5 among centers in all three categories, as well as the focal point of the Magic’s offensive system, means Vooch will get “capital-p paid” this offseason. Could the Atlanta Hawks make him an offer he couldn’t refuse?

It’s a tantalizing question. The Hawks will have upwards of $50 million in cap space this offseason, but would tying the team’s future to a 28-year-old center really be worth it? Sure, it would immediately vault the Hawks into playoff contention (probably) in the East, but is that really what the team is aiming for? Probably not.

Still though, Vooch’s play style would certainly fill a need for the Hawks. We shall see if Vooch is high on the team’s priority list in terms of free agents.