Planning Out the 2024 Draft For The Atlanta Hawks

June 11th, 2024

by Alan Lu

The Hawks making the Conference Finals has been so long ago (as they had defeated the wildly overrated Philadelphia 76ers back then), as that happened under Nate McMillan’s watch in 2021, and he’s no longer there, as he has since became another one of Trae Young’s fired coaches. Quin Snyder has come in and coached his first full season as the Hawks coach after previously coaching the Utah Jazz, but the Hawks were very disappointing, as they missed the playoffs this year. Given their disappointing season ending yet again, while the Hawks do have some star players on their team, it’s possible that the Hawks may have to consider all possibilities, even the possibility of starting over and rebuilding to build around their top pick, as they have been stalling as a franchise for several years now.

Trae Young and Quin Snyder led the Atlanta Hawks to the play-in tournament this year, but their effort wasn’t enough to get them to the 2024 NBA Playoffs. (Photo: Todd Kirkland/Getty Images, via SB Nation’s Duke Basketball Report)

It’s pretty much been known that Trae Young and Dejounte Murray don’t coexist well together, which puts them in a bind and in a tough spot, because both are small guards that need the basketball, and neither play too well off the ball, as Young especially seems reluctant to add or incorporate off-ball movement into his overall game.

I tried various trade ideas on Fanspo and consulted a friend of mine, but my first idea didn’t seem to work because the Hawks don’t have enough draft capital, and cobbling together a trade for Herbert Jones, Dyson Daniels, other players and picks would make the Hawks dangerously similar to this year’s Brooklyn Nets, as they then might not have enough in the short term or future, although the Hawks’ defense would be much better. My second idea was to consider Young for Ingram, but I didn’t think that would be too good of an idea, as it would seem like the Hawks would be swapping out stars just to go for a play-in tournament berth.

So, finally, I landed on an idea that was to my liking and one that seems logical to me. My proposed trade would be

Mock Trade #1:

The Atlanta Hawks would trade Dejounte Murray, Clint Capela, AJ Griffin, the 2025 2nd Round Pick (via Minnesota), and the 2026 2nd Round Pick (via Memphis) to the New Orleans Pelicans for Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr.

Fanspo NBA Mock Trade Between Atlanta and New Orleans
An NBA Mock Trade Between Atlanta and New Orleans. Image courtesy of Fanspo.

In this one, the Hawks would trade one of their star guards to land the talented, but injury-prone star forward, Brandon Ingram. The Pelicans would add a star playmaker that can defend in Dejounte Murray, Capela would be insurance in case if Jonas Valanciunas were to leave, and AJ Griffin is a talented swingman that had a good rookie season, but was stapled to the end of the bench this past year, so he will need a change of scenery to get away from the clutches of Quin Snyder. And mostly for the Hawks, they would get to pair Trae Young with Brandon Ingram to give them a more potent and balanced offensive attack, which could be interesting if they can stay healthy and even make them possible contenders in the East if the Hawks can get their act together.

In the draft, the Atlanta Hawks could go in a number of ways. If they were to add Brandon Ingram to their team, the Hawks could look to fill a need, as Alex Sarr would be the pick to help replace the loss of Capela, with Onyeka Okongwu also being part of the big man tandem. Sarr is an athletically gifted big man that has great defensive potential, although he had an up and down season in the NBL regular season, and he’s a tremendous shot blocker that can lock down the paint. His vast athleticism and defensive potential make him an intriguing option for him to be the top pick. However, it’s uncertain as to how much offense he’ll bring or if he will be an elite rebounder in this league. If his jump shot comes around and he proves to be a valuable face-up scorer, Sarr would be the pick here. Otherwise, if he isn’t, then the move may be to turn elsewhere for the first overall pick.

As the Hawks would still have an All-Star caliber ball handler with the first overall pick, this would probably rule out the need for them to take a point guard into consideration, so this would probably rule out Rob Dillingham or Reed Sheppard for the top spot. And although Nikola Topic is a tall, skilled playmaker that has played at a high level, he is currently out due to a partially torn ACL, and that combined with the uncertainty of his ability to play off the ball, it’s unlikely the Hawks would pick him either. So, if the pick is not Sarr, then the list of candidates would mostly involve various wing players, and my list would then narrow down to Zaccharie Risacher, Cody Williams, Stephon Castle, Ron Holland, Matas Buzelis, and Donovan Clingan.

With the Hawks having a disappointing season, it would be imperative for them to select a player that has winning habits and could help inject a winning culture to them. So, this would probably rule out the G-League Ignite guys, and even though Holland and Buzelis are very young and talented forwards with immense upside, they played on a really bad G-League team, so they may need to go to a team where they will have to undo some of those bad habits and thus might not be the best option for a near-playoff ready team.

Donovan Clingan is a ready made big man that has great size, solid athleticism, and he is a stout interior defender, and his polish, championship experience, and intangibles certainly could have him in the discussion. However, his offensive repertoire seems limited, and while he can pass and roll to the rim and provide energy, he doesn’t have much of a jump shot, dribble or post game, and his lack of elite offensive skills may make him potentially ill-suited to be the top pick, as he may have the lowest ceiling amongst the top ten prospects, even though he could step into the rotation right away. The Hawks could still go with him at the top spot, but I would think they’d probably go with a higher ceiling prospect with the first overall pick.

So now, if Sarr is not the pick, the list of likely options may be Zaccharie Risacher, Cody Williams, and Stephon Castle.

Risacher is a very tall, skilled French forward that excelled in both the French League and Euroleague, and he provided strong all-around skills, especially in the regular season. He’s a smooth, athletic forward that can shoot and defend, and he also showed off some playmaking skills. He had some bumps in the postseason, but he managed to bounce back afterwards. While his game may not pop as much as Sarr, Risacher’s strong all-around skillls and advanced skills for a player his age makes him a very good option for the top spot. If Risacher ends up being similar to Milwaukee Bucks’ star forward Khris Middleton, then Risacher going number one to Atlanta would be a very solid option. Otherwise, if he ends up being extremely inconsistent or worse, then maybe other options would need to be considered.

As for Cody Williams, I think he’d be a solid two-way wing that plays hard, and he projects to be a tough, athletic wing that can provide solid defense. He’s a very athletic, gritty forward that has shown that he can shoot it but doesn’t always look to do so, but he’s also been quite injury prone. He’s probably likely to be a very solid role player similar to former Chicago Bulls’ forward Luol Deng, but he’s not likely to be a star due to his lack of elite skills on offense, and there may be too many questions about his game to make him worthy of being the top pick.

Stephon Castle would be an intriguing pick, as he is a tall, athletic 6-5 guard with strong playmaking and defensive skills, and he’s probably the best perimeter defender in the draft. He is a slasher that can ably score, but is inconsistent shot would make him a risky pick at the top spot. But given that his jump shot started to come around late in the NCAA Tournament along with his sterling defensive skills, he could be a viable sleeper option in case if the Hawks didn’t want to go with either Risacher or Sarr.

Also, as there may not be much difference between the top pick and the fourth pick, the move may be to trade down to get the 4th overall pick and the 8th overall pick from San Antonio, along with other possible picks. But it may be uncertain or unlikely that the Spurs would be willing to trade both top ten picks in a draft where there isn’t an obvious number one overall pick, so the Hawks will likely need to choose who to select at the top of the draft.

So, my selection for the Atlanta Hawks at number 1 would most likely be (via ESPN’s NBA Mock Draft Simulator):

ZACCHARIE RISACHER, F, JL Bourg (France).

A mock draft board for the Atlanta Hawks. Image courtesy of Fanspo.
A mock draft board for the Atlanta Hawks. Image courtesy of ESPN Analytics.

While there are other viable options at number one (such as Stephon Castle, Cody Williams, or Alex Sarr), Zaccharie Risacher’s smooth all-around game and strong pedigree would theoretically make him a very versatile and valuable player as he would fit in with the Hawks, especially if he paired with a lead ball handler. Anyways, the Hawks can go in a number of ways, as they should keep all of their options open. The 2024 NBA Draft will be held on June 26 and 27, and it could be an interesting and entertaining two day event. Thanks for reading.

NBA Scouting Live
error: Content is protected !!