2019 Atlanta Hawks Depth Chart
|Point Guard||Trae Young|
|Shooting Guard||Kent Bazemore||Tyler Dorsey|
|Small Forward||Taurean Prince||Kevin Huerter||Vince Carter|
|Power Forward||John Collins||Omari Spellman|
|Center||Dewayne Dedmon||Alex Len||Miles Plumlee|
There’s no way to say it other than to be brutally honest: the Atlanta Hawks were a disaster in 2017. Atlanta cleaned house in the 2018 offseason, and now apparently have gone full Silicon Valley. The team brought in the Warriors vice president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk to run things from the general manager spot. After ‘mutually parting ways’ (an all-time great sports trope) with former head coach Mike Budenholzer, the team hired Philadelphia 76ers assistant Lloyd Pierce to run the young team.
The Golden State influence was truly put on display in Atlanta on draft night. Many are already criticizing the decision to trade back from the three spot – theoretically passing on Luka Dončić – to draft the biggest wild-card in the draft in Oklahoma’s Trae Young (pssst see Steph Curry light).
After taking Young, Atlanta turned around and took the 6-foot-7 wing swingman guard Kevin Huerter, who was widely considered one of the best shooters in the draft, at 19th overall. At 6’7” with serious 3-and-D potential it’s also quite easy to draw comparisons to Klay Thompson. With picks 30 and 34, Atlanta selected two more seasoned college winners, with Villanova’s Omari Spellman and Kansas’ Devonte’ Graham. The Golden State influence on Schlenk’s first draft was simply astounding.
Point guard was a major spot of turnover on the Hawks roster this offseason. Dennis Schroder, last season’s starter who accounted for 19.4 points and 6.2 assists in 2017, was dealt to Oklahoma City in exchange for the Carmelo Anthony buyout. Atlanta had spent most of 2018 shopping Schroder’s contract, who has 3 years and $46.5 million left on his current deal.
In addition to brining in Young in the draft, Atlanta signed veteran guard Jeremy Lin, who had a solid and underrated presence during his time in Brooklyn, as a stabilizing guard who will likely start until Young is ready to go.
The selection of Trae Young 5th overall, for better or worse, wrote the future of the point guard position for the Hawks for the next handful of years. Young was up and down in the Summer League. He got off to a slow start in his first three games in Utah, where he shot just 12.5% from three-point range, but rallied to score 21 points with 11 assists in the Vegas Summer League debut. By the end of the competition he was name to the All Summer League Second Team.
Ultimately, Schlenk preached patience with his young point guard, telling USA Today “‘Everybody’s like, oh he missed one shot, and it’s ‘Oh, he’s a bust.’ This is a long process for him. It’s not going to be a summer league. It’s not going to be a season. It will be a two or three-year thing, and that’s when we’re going to find out who Trae Young really is.” For Schlenk and much of the Atlanta front office, the development of Young could hold the keys to their future.
Vince Carter is attempting to play on every team in the NBA before retiring. Not really, but when the 41-year-old makes his Hawks debut it will be the eighth uniform he’s donned in his 21-year NBA career.
Realistically, Carter won’t see too much action for the Hawks this year, with 5-year Hawk Kent Bazemore a lock to start at the two guard and 19th overall pick Kevin Hueter likely to see early playing time from his potential as a floor spacer and defender. Bazemore – the teams highest payed player – may be asked to carry a lot of the load, offensively, on a young Hawks team. This may prove to be a struggle, as Bazemore himself has never averaged more than 12.9 ppg.
This will be an interesting spot for the Hawks. No Hawks three-man will make more than $2.5 million in 2018. Taurean Prince is a lock to start, and he was certainly impressive down the start last season, finishing as the team’s second leading scorer at 14.1 points per game.
Selected just a few picks after Prince in the 2016 draft is fellow wingman DeAndre’ Bembry. Bembry has been battling a wrist injury that kept him out of summer league. Behind those two players is former Virginia Cavalier Justin Anderson, who is now on his third team since coming into the league in 2015.
In Lloyd Pierce’s introductory presser, he said that “I don’t think any of the guys that are on the roster are going to tell you that they’ve played their best basketball yet.” This is certainly a position group that could use some of that Pierce positivity.
Even with the addition of Trae Young, John Collins may be the Hawks most exciting young player. Only 20 years old, Collins is likely Atlanta’s most athletic player. His 123 dunks last season was three more than that of Lebron James. Many think Collins’ jump shot is a work in progress, but he still shot 34% from three last year, and per 36 minutes he averaged 15.7/7.4/2.0 with 3.5 offensive rebounds a game. The kid is good.
To backup Collins, they drafted Villanova’s Omari Spellman at 30. Spellman is a balanced player (averaging 10.9 points and 8.0 rebounds at Villanova) who can score on all three levels and defend anything from the three to five.
Dewayne Dedmond exercised his player option to remain with the Hawks in June, and barring any major shakeup, will likely start for Atlanta at the five. A player who can space floor and knock down a 3, Dedmond offers some value as an expiring trade asset if the Hawks look to move him, otherwise should fit in with the rebuilding roster.
The decision to bring in Alex Len was a potentially head scratching one. Len never figured it out in Phoenix, and after five seasons they simply let the former 5th overall pick walk. Len is a backup five who, like Dedmond, can also hit the occasional three, but his value will only come to light if Dedmond is shopped.