May 23, 2024 - Sports

3 questions facing the Atlanta Hawks ahead of the NBA Draft

Two men stand in front of a sign that says 1st pick holding the Atlanta Hawks logo

Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields (right) scored the No. 1 pick. Photo: Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

There's good luck, there's bad luck and then there's Atlanta luck. That's the position the Hawks find themselves in after securing the No. 1 pick in this year's NBA Draft.

The big picture: This is the first time the Hawks are picking first overall since 1975 — a year where the draft class has been deemed by pundits to lack a consensus No. 1 pick.

  • Heading into the draft lottery, the middling Hawks had a 3% chance to win it, and they did. That's Atlanta luck for ya.

State of play: Now they are on the clock, with big decisions to make that could alter the franchise as the June 26–27 draft approaches.

Here are three key questions facing the team's brass this offseason.

Who to take with the first pick?

After the dust of the lottery settled, so did opinions about who should go off the board first: French prospect Alexandre Sarr.

  • Sarr was measured at 224 pounds and just under 7 feet (without shoes) with a 7-foot-4 wingspan. Those numbers alone have people salivating about the difference he could make on defense, much like fellow Frenchman and rookie of the year Victor Wembanyama.

Atlanta connection: Sarr spent one season playing for Overtime Elite, whose arena is across the street from Atlantic Station.

Yes, but: If the Hawks get an offer they can't refuse, they could also trade the No. 1 pick for more established talent, though it doesn't seem likely major deals will happen.

What about Atlanta's current roster?

Perhaps an even bigger question facing this team is what to do about their star backcourt.

Zoom in: The two-year pairing of guards Trae Young and Dejounte Murray has not produced meaningful results on the court and people around the league expect the Hawks to move on from one of them this offseason.

  • Murray's name was common in the rumor mill leading up to last season's trade deadline. Atlanta gave up three first-round picks and more to land Murray from San Antonio in 2022.
  • If Atlanta decides it's time to break up the combo, the team could look to recoup picks and other assets as both Murray — and even more so Young — should draw an active trade market.

Follow the money: Murray is entering the first year of his four-year, $114 million deal. Young is heading into the third year of his five-year, $215 million contract.

Atlanta's salary issue

The Hawks only have one pick in this year's draft, meaning any other upgrades will have to come via free agency or players on the roster taking a leap.

Zoom in: The team is nearly $60 million over the salary cap set by the NBA, meaning it doesn't have much to spend to land a splashy name this offseason.

  • Atlanta's priorities will likely be to hang on to young forward Jalen Johnson, who made major strides in his game this year, and to find a solid defensive player.
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