2015: Pick #15. Actual: Jerian Grant (eventually became Tim Hardaway Jr.). Should’ve Been: Norm Powell? I guess?
With the 15th pick in the 2015 draft, Atlanta selected and immediately traded Kelly Oubre Jr. to Washington for the 19th pick, Jerian Grant, and two future seconds. The Hawks then sent Grant to New York for Tim Hardaway Jr.
People forget what a spicy trade this was at the time. Atlanta had just beaten Washington in the second round of the playoffs, so a direct trade with a playoff rival was seen as a bit bold. Atlanta thought they were adding a solid rotation piece in Hardaway whose shooting and size could help them get over the Cleveland hump.
But Hardaway Jr. had a disappointing year with the Hawks, averaging a paltry 6.4 points per game (his only season to date averaging fewer than 10 points per game). He bounced back some the following year, but the Hawks refused to match the New York Knicks’ $71 million/4-year contract in restricted free agency.
Even though Hardaway was a disappointment, it was a worthy risk. There were several great players in the 2015 draft, but none still available at pick #15. Norm Powell at #46 might’ve been the best of an uninspiring bunch. At his peak, he was a decent-enough defender and reliable scorer, a clear improvement over Hardaway. But Atlanta was looking for immediate help, and few — if any — rookies can come in and move the needle on a contending team.
Could Atlanta have done better? Technically, yes, but this was a worthy trade effort that just didn’t pan out.