Atlanta Hawks: Looking at Sharife Cooper as the Hawks’ second round pick

Atlanta Hawks Mandatory Credit: Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks Mandatory Credit: Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks got a draft steal in the second round Thursday night as they drafted point guard Sharife Cooper with the 48th pick. Surprisingly, Cooper went nearly late in the draft as some insiders projected him to be higher. But the Hawks will not be complaining about the situation. Hawks GM Travis Schlenk was able to draft a point guard who has a very high IQ and the ability to develop as time passes.

Many fans are aware of what Cooper can bring to the table as far as offense. No, he isn’t your sharpshooting player like Trae Young is to the team. Cooper does have abilities to score at will but is also a terrific playmaker. Cooper played in 12 games this past season for the Auburn Tigers and averaged 20.2 points along with 8.1 assists.

Despite his college eligibility being up in the air the first few months, Cooper quickly elevated as one of the most exciting players in the SEC. People can even make a case that the Tigers would’ve had a better record if Cooper played the entire season.

The Atlanta Hawks were able to have another home-grown player

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With Cooper in Atlanta, the Georgia native plays with comfortability being in his home state. The Hawks are riding a ton of momentum after a deep playoff run to the Eastern Conference Finals. As they just gave Young a maximum deal and are looking to bring Collins back, the team looks to be in full effect next season to shock the world again.

Cooper being the backup point guard will be fun to watch in Atlanta. He will certainly gain the trust of coach Nate McMillan to be the decision-maker and dominant ball handler. Cooper can choose the option to either score or be a playmaker while playing with the second unit.

While he is a terrific penetrator at his size, he could likely become Trae Young 2.0 and find a connection with the big men for lobs. Cooper will draw attention from the defense due to his versatility with the ball. Possibly, coach McMillan will place him in lineups with shooters like Cam Reddish, Kevin Huerter, and others. With Cooper drawing attention from the defense, it’ll open up opportunities for perimeter threats out on the floor.

Cooper may not be in contention for the Rookie of the Year award but he will definitely be in a winning culture. He will certainly become a fan favorite in Atlanta for being a team player on and off the floor.

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The biggest concern in his game that can be developed is his perimeter scoring. Can he adjust to the NBA floor and shoot at a high rate from mid-range and three-pointer? That will be the target as far as improvements. Besides that, Cooper fits into the Atlanta culture just fine and will make an impact right away.