2016. Pick #16. Actual: DeAndre’ Bembry. Should’ve Been: Pascal Siakam
This one hurts. Bembry was a solid positional rebounder, passer, and defender, but at just 6’5″ and with zero outside shot to speak of, he was a few years ahead of his ideal time. In some ways, he reminded me of today’s Bruce Brown, but he never quite found the role Brown has managed to carve out for himself.
Several players were taken after Bembry who could’ve helped the Hawks then and now. Current Hawk Dejounte Murray was the 29th pick in the draft. Malcolm Brogdon and Ivica Zubac both turned into quality NBA starters. But the best player available was Raptors forward Pascal Siakam.
Siakam took a few years to develop, and for all we know, drafting him wouldn’t have impacted the Hawks’ eventual high lottery slot two years later. However, he eventually blossomed into a two-time All-NBA player with a funky game and a high motor.
Siakam has developed a little bit of an unfair reputation of late, but his two-way play and effort would’ve endeared him to the Hawks faithful. He’s a little overtaxed on Toronto, but if he’d been running besides, say, Trae Young? Perhaps he’s viewed in a rosier light. He can guard premier wings, spin into transition layups, create in isolation when things break down, and even run the offense for spurts.
Siakam is the wing defender the Hawks have always needed, and he brings plenty of secondary creation and ballhandling to boot. He would’ve been an ace fit as the #2 guy on the Hawks.