Atlanta Hawks: 12 Potential Targets in Free Agency

Kevon Looney Ivica Zubac Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kevon Looney Ivica Zubac Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Hawks
Nerlens Noel #3 Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images) /

Nerlens Noel

Speaking of defense, wouldn’t it behoove the Hawks to sign a player whose two nicknames listed on Basketball Reference are “The Eraser” and “The Nerlen Wall?” There’s no question that Nerlens Noel would be a defensive upgrade at the backup (or even starting) center spot on the Atlanta Hawks.

Noel has a history with rebuilding teams, as he is one of the premier draft picks that the Philadelphia 76ers selected during the beloved Process era. In his career, Noel has accumulated 16.5 career win shares, and more than ¾ of those have come via defensive win shares at 12.3.

So far this season, on one of the best defenses in the entire league in Oklahoma City, he has nabbed a career-high 4.2 defensive win shares. Noel is producing a sterling 7.6 percent block rate this season, which would qualify as second in the entire league if he had played more than 1022 minutes. Similarly, if he qualified, Noel’s steal percentage of 3.0 would be second in the entire league – an absurd feat for a hulking 6-foot-11 center. Finally, Noel’s 2.3 Defensive Player Impact/Plus Minus per BBall Index is the highest on the entire Thunder team – a team that also features noted lockdown defender Paul George among its ranks.

Though Noel will turn 25 on April 10, he is still young enough to be a part of this young Atlanta Hawks core that will be fun to watch as they improve and grow together.

Depending on what the Hawks do in the draft, Noel should be high on the team’s free agency wish list. Note: Noel does have a player option for $1.9 million next year, but one would imagine he could do better than that on the open market.