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Around the Association: 2010 NBA Draft Previews - Atlanta Hawks: calling all shooting guards not named Joe Johnson

25 days to go until the 2010 NBA Draft!

Today we will once again skip the Phoenix Suns and let them marinate a little (from a Draft perspective) as they lick their wounds and get back into what-do-we-do-next mode.

That leaves us with the Atlanta Hawks, who have the 24th and 53rd picks in the this year's Draft.

Before we get to Joe Johnson, based on the recent post-season of getting swept by the Orlando Magic, it does not take a brain surgeon to know that the Hawks desperately need some size.

But then there's Joe Johnson.

So you have a team that basically played four-and-a-half-on-five, and now they might be cut down to three-and-a-half if Joe Johnson leaves. Yikes.

I actually think he leaves. The excitement of being a free agent named in the same sentence as LeBron James,Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh (and Amare Stoudemire) is too tempting. He'll open that door, be overtaken by the bright lights of what awaits beyond it, and will not be able to look back. Atlanta will pale in comparison. He's gone.

And it's not like Atlanta's an incredible destination for any other free agent to come into. The Hawks are in trouble.

They need a big and they need a replacement for Joe Johnson. Not gonna happen with picks as low as #24 and #53. Here's who they have committed for 2010-11, and who might be out.

pg Mike Bibby
Jeff Teague
sg Joe Johnson
Jamal Crawford
Maurice Evans
Mario West
sf Josh Smith
Marvin Williams
Josh Childress
pf Al Horford
Joe Smith
c Zaza Pachulia
Jason Collins
Randolph Morris

But let's see what the mocks say...

No. 24 pick

  • Terrico White (sg, 6'5", 203, Mississippi, sophomore). As I wrote on the Orlando Magic Draft Preview, I was very disappointed by White's college performances this past year. And I would like to think that the one position which translates well to the NBA from college is shooting guard. IMHO, Eneil Polynice was the best player on the dysfunctional Ole Miss team. Polynice, a big 6'5" guard/forward who doesn't really have a whole lot of skills, would be the one making hustle plays. White wasn't a factor. He couldn't shoot from outside, he couldn't dribble to create his own shot, and he's certainly not a point guard. He would not be a good pick at this juncture in his career for the Hawks.
  • DraftExpress: Kevin Seraphin (c, 6'9", 258, France, 20 years old). I have no scouting report for Seraphin, but he seems to have a rising draft stock and DraftExpress is pretty solid on its international scouting.
  • Chad Ford: Hassan Whiteside (c, 7'0", 227, Marshall, freshman). I have not seen Whiteside play, but his draft stock appears to be rising because of some nice measurements at the recent NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. He's got a 7'7" wingspan. There have been questions about his attitude and ability to mature into an impact role. I'm skeptical. I think the odds of him becoming a bust outweigh him becoming a diamond-in-the-rough at this point. I need to find some video on his inside post moves, if there are any.

No. 53 pick

  • Sherron Collins (pg, 5'11", 217, Kansas, senior). Collins would be a decent backup for Bibby, but the Hawks just have too glaring needs at shooting guard and big man, especially in a Draft that is deep in big man rotation players.
  • DraftExpress: Nemanja Bjelica (g/f, 6'10", 210, Belgrade). Again, DraftExpress is strong on its international connections, so while I don't doubt that this guy has talent, I wonder if a 2nd-round pick is needed to pick someone that skinny when the Hawks need some bulk inside.
  • Chad Ford: does not project 2nd-round picks

My analysis for the No. 24 pick

I think you go with the best player available as it pertains to a shooting guard or big man at #24. This year's Draft is not that deep on shooting guards, and none of them will ever be Joe Johnson, who was the 10th pick out of Arkansas in the 2001 Draft. So if you had to lean one way or another, you're probably leaning big man at #24 if you're the Hawks.

  • If James Anderson falls this far, you probably take him. Lance Stephenson might be someone who has a high enough ceiling (too early to tell) that you gamble on, but it's safer to go with a big than risk it with Stephenson. I don't think the Hawks have a lot of room to gamble with the Draft as it pertains to this off-season.
  • As far as shooting guards or playmakers who seem to be around or later than #24, you've got guys like Eric Bledsoe or Jordan Crawford. However, Bledsoe is more of a slasher and doesn't have the shooting ability yet. Crawford is the opposite. If Bledsoe and Crawford were one player, you'd have the perfect long-term replacement for Joe Johnson. A better pick would be Willie Warren if he's available, who can both dribble and create, as well as shoot from outside. Any other backcourt talent around or later than #24 doesn't seem to be a good fit for the Hawks' needs right now and would be better served at pick number 53.
  • For bigs, if Patrick Patterson or Daniel Orton falls this far, you take him. A good, safe pick would be Gani Lawal, who is getting way overshadowed to the point of forgotten by the recent hype of Georgia Tech teammate Derrick Favors, who could get picked as high as #2. Again, Whiteside is not a bad pick at #24.
  • There's a plethora of big men that could get taken by the Hawks at #24 instead of lower. The key thing to keep in mind is that they got bounced from the playoffs because 6'9" Horford had to play center. So if you're going to draft someone big at #24, make sure he's 6'10" or 6'11" or taller, so Horford can play his natural position at power forward. Of course, the 24th pick is probably not going to be a starter in the NBA. As previously mentioned, Atlanta has more pressing issues on its hands.

My analysis for the 53rd pick

I think in a Draft this deep in rotation big men, and a need for a rotation big man, you go claim yourself a rotation big man at #53 and bring in some more into training camp. In addition, you're not going to find a quality shooting guard this low in the Draft, anyways. Here are a few names to consider:

  • In case they drop this far, shotblockers Jerome Jordan of Tulsa or Jarvis Varnado of Mississippi State. Then you've got the previously overweight Dexter Pittman of Texas -- I think his weight will be a recurring problem in the NBA should he make a roster. And finally, Tiny Gallon of Oklahoma, who might have some offcourt baggage, and Brian Zoubek of Duke fame.
  • For training camp, bring in Omar Samhan of St. Mary's, Hamady Ndiaye of Rutgers, and any other international bigs that didn't get drafted. Basically it will be one huge tryout to for both the spot next to Horford in the frontline as well as off the bench.

The GM of the Hawks is Rick Sund and I randomly met his son, who works for the Warriors in the front office, while picking up some donated tickets to my organization, Dream League. And if you've got any ties to the Warriors, you know this: anything goes. So while my analysis yields glaring needs for the Hawks at shooting guard and center, you just never know.

NEXT: Phoenix Suns or Boston Celtics

ORL - Improving while Dwight improves (29th, 59th picks)
DAL - Depends on Dirk and Dampier dollars (50th, 57th picks)
CHA - S-Jax stuck (no draft picks)
DEN - Just need Coach Karl back? (no draft picks)
CLE - If you leave (no draft picks)

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