The Joe Johnson trade continues to pay dividends for the Atlanta Hawks as the team finds itself with the 15th pick in the draft for the second year in a row (shout out to Billy King). But who exactly can a 60-win team choose that will put it over the top?
There's little consensus among the mocks as to who the Hawks should take, so I put together a list of potential draftees and sent it to our friends over at Peachtree Hoops. Site manager Kris Willis (no relation to Kevin, at least to my knowledge) responded with the following:
It's really unclear what direction the Hawks might go in with the draft, but we have been grouping about the same players that you have listed. Personally, I like [Sam] Dekker at the moment but wouldn't be upset with [Devin] Booker, [Rondae] Hollis-Jefferson, [Bobby] Portis or [Justin] Anderson. I'm intrigued by Trey Lyles as well. The big thing for Atlanta is getting a guy that could potentially come in and contribute.
God bless Adreian Payne, but - at least in the minds of the Hawks - he simply wasn't ready to log significant minutes for the No. 1-seeded team in the East. To be fair, it's hard for most non-lottery picks to come into the league and hit the ground running, but a player who I think could have an immediate impact for a contender is Wisconsin SF Sam Dekker.
The 6'9", 219-pound junior made himself a boatload of money during the NCAA Tournament (19.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 57.1 FG% in six games), and with three years of big time college basketball under his belt, he should be able to contribute fairly quickly. Best suited to play the 3, Dekker has enough athleticism to guard multiple positions, and he's a consistent jump shot away from being one of the 10 most talented players in this year's draft class.
All of that comes with a significant caveat, however: The Sam Dekker that we saw for most of the tournament wasn't the same player that we've seen for most of his college career. The former 5-star recruit was unusually aggressive during Wisconsin's run to the national title game, though some of the deference that we saw over the past two years could be attributed to the emergence of Badgers center Frank Kaminsky.
Dekker is often tagged with the "good at a lot of things, not exceptional at any one particular thing" label, but that shouldn't be viewed as a slight in this situation. And while there are questions about his shot and his ability to create offense for himself at the next level, Dekker's basketball IQ is high enough that he won't (or at least shouldn't) be a liability out on the court.