The Atlanta Hawks finally got lucky in the NBA draft lottery. Now they have to make it count

The NBA draft lottery came and went and the big winner of the lottery was the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks came in with just a 3% chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick, but they came out on top in the lottery for the first time in franchise history. This was going to be an eventful offseason for Atlanta regardless of where they were selected, but winning the No. 1 pick when you only have a 3% chance of getting it is huge.

It was the first time the Hawks had luck in the lottery. In 2020, their pre-lottery position was 4th, but they fell to 6th, missing out on a chance to draft Anthony Edwards. In 2019, Atlanta’s position before the draft was 5th, but they fell three spots to 8th and missed out on Zion Williamson. Atlanta had never won more than two spots in the lottery before yesterday.

Now I’m sure you’ve heard and read that this is one of the weakest builds ever and I agree that it’s not a strong build. There’s no Victor Wembanyama, Zion Williamson, or Anthony Edwards type talent in the draft, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good players or good guys who can’t have impact. I also reiterate that winning the lottery with only a 3% chance is huge, regardless of the draft.

It was the first day of what will be a big offseason in Atlanta. Since reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, Atlanta has experienced two first-round eliminations in the playoffs, and this year they missed the playoffs completely. There is a lot of speculation about Atlanta breaking up the backcourt duo of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, as the results have been lackluster to say the least on the field. The Young/Murray question as well as what they do with the No. 1 overall pick will be the biggest decisions for the Hawks this summer.

By winning the lottery yesterday, the Hawks received a golden ticket and they can use it to help rebuild this roster.

If Atlanta chooses to keep the pick, they could take Alex Sarr, who is the favorite to be the first player taken next month. Atlanta was looking for bigger, more athletic players with length to get around Trae Young and elevate this defense. Sarr would immediately elevate the Hawks defense and if Atlanta decides to keep Young, it would give them the most talented big man they’ve ever played with. Sarr’s biggest concerns are on offense, but playing with Young would help him on that end. I think Sarr is the most talented player in the draft and would fit in perfectly with the team.

He’s not perfect, however, and if there’s any chance of a surprise pick at No. 1, it’s this year. Guys like Donovan Clingan, Zaccharie Risacher, Ron Holland and Matas Buzelis could still be considered with the No. 1 pick. These are all talented players who would fit with the Hawks and all fill a need. These are bigger risks than Sarr would be, but don’t rule out any scenarios at #1.

One of the main reasons the move up is so important is because the No. 1 pick will be a more valuable trade asset than any other spot the Hawks could have chosen. If Atlanta comes to the conclusion that they don’t like either of these prospects, they could try to move the pick, even if that’s not on general manager Landry Fields’ mind at the moment:

“Not even our focus right now. For example…this is a time where the opportunity in front of us is great and it puts us in position. Positioning is key in this industry and that’s the position we have now, the No. 1 position. We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing, come together as a group and we’ll figure this out in time.

The Hawks need to be careful not to just walk away from the pick for the sake of walking away from it. They should demand a lot in exchange for this pick and sit back and take the player of their choice if a quality offer isn’t made. Currently, there are no stars available that I would trade the #1 pick for. Sarr would be a great fit for the team and give the Hawks what they want on the defensive end. Atlanta should only trade the pick and not take Sarr if there is a star-level player who fits their schedule and would help them win immediately. This player is currently unavailable.

It was a disappointing and frustrating season for the Hawks. They came in hoping that a full season under Quin Snyder would propel the team into the top half of the standings and help them advance in the playoffs. The team suffered from injuries all season and never found consistency. They lost an ugly game to the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Play-In tournament and their season ended. Since then, speculation has continued to swirl about what will happen with Trae Young, Dejounte Murray and the rest of the roster.

Winning the lottery and getting the No. 1 pick guarantees the Hawks nothing but an opportunity to really help reshape this roster. They must seize this opportunity and make the most of it. It could propel them to where they want to be. Poor management can set the franchise back for a while.

Atlanta had never had much luck in the lottery before yesterday. They now need to ensure they can make the most of the opportunity in front of them.