The draft lottery could have gone worse for the Hawks – but not much worse. Had the percentages regarding pingpong balls held, at worst they’d have had the fifth and ninth choices overall. They wound up with Nos. 8 and 10. Their only consolation was that the pick they were owed by Dallas didn’t land in the top five, which would have meant the Mavericks got to keep it.
There are some drafts where having two top-10 picks is a fine thing. This isn’t one. There’s a clear separation between the three best players – Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett of Duke, Ja Morant of Murray State – and everyone else. This is a bad draft to be holding five picks between No. 8 and No. 42, which is where the Hawks were. Then they did the strangest thing: They went and got another.
On Thursday, it was reported – the NBA doesn’t allow official confirmation just yet – that the Hawks sent Taurean Prince, a starting wing, to Brooklyn for Allen Crabbe, who has been in the league since 2013, though not so you’d notice, plus the No. 17 pick in this draft and a lottery-protected Round 1 pick in 2020. Having six selections over two rounds might make sense for a team beginning a rebuild, but that’s no longer the Hawks. They’re two years into this, and they have something of nucleus in John Collins, Trae Young and Kevin Huerter.
Such a team shouldn’t be interested in volume for volume’s sake, and the NBA really isn’t a volume sport. (MLB and pro football are.) The NBA is about high-level talent. Round 2 picks can sometimes pan out – Draymond Green was one – but not often. It’s noteworthy that that the five men who made this season’s All-Rookie team went 1-5 in the 2018 draft. This year’s class is so top-heavy it’s unclear if even the 10th man chosen will become a starter.