I. Needs / History
This was one of the best seasons in recent memory for the Hawks
as they posted a 56-26 record (good enough to come in second behind
the Bulls in the Central division) and advanced to the conference semis
for the third time in four years under head coach Lenny Wilkens.
The only thing that kept the Hawks from advancing further was a lack
of quality bench players and a little Bulls magic. This pick will be used
toincrease the bench depth that they lost after signing free-agent Dikembe
Mutombo last season and provide a decent player to replace the aging
Salaries from 96-97 season:
Dikembe Mutombo $8,013,000
Christian Laettner $4,500,000
Steve Smith $4,500,000
Ken Norman $2,869,000
Mookie Blaylock $2,800,000
Alan Henderson $910,000
Priest Lauderdale $548,000
Jon Barry $247,500
Willie Burton $247,500
Tyrone Corbin $247,500
Ivano Newbill $247,500
Eldridge Recasner $247,500
Donnie Boyce $247,500
What can you do to improve on this position? Mutombo proved once
again to be the strongest defensive player in the league this past year.
His off-season addition last summer was one of the best moves that has
been made in the Hawks front-office lately. The addition of Mutombo, off
course, had some drawbacks. They lost most of their quality depth and
now have a bench that consists of mostly minimum salaried role players.
Dikembe seems to be happy waving his finger towards would-be
scorers in Atlanta and will be threatening all that attempt to invade his
territory for years to come.
Christian Laettner has finally been placed in a winning situation and
boy has his attitude changed! This change has helped Laettner to his
best season of his career and to his first All-Star appearance. He is no
longer trying to match up with the much taller centers in the NBA and has
found himself playing his natural position of power forward.
Starter Tyrone Corbin produces for Atlanta, but seems to be getting
up in the years and with the new wave of quick and agile "point
forwards" in the league he is on his way out. It would be best to try and
keep the free-agent another year or so to help in the tutelage of another
small forward for Atlanta's future.
Alan Henderson seems to show flashes of brilliance every few
games and will hopefully develop into the small forward that is needed to
fill Corbin's space, but in order to become more comfortable in this role he
must get more playing time.
More depth is needed at the frontcourt positions.
The combo of Steve Smith and Mookie Blaylock has been outstanding
the past season and continue to improve the more they play together.
Averaging 4.2apg and 5.9apg respectively, they provide a difficult
challenge for defenders as they both can pass the ball extremely well.
Smith leads the team in scoring at 20.1 ppg and Blaylock led the league in
steals at 2.72 spg. This deadly combination has also heralded them as
two of the better defensive guards in the NBA.
III. Selection (and explanation)
Jerald Honeycutt, Tulane
With the 22nd pick in this shallow draft the Hawks can only hope for
the best. Honeycutt is the best player that is available at this time and is
just what they are looking for: more depth and a decent back up for
Henderson / Corbin or Smith.
Although he showed inconsistency throughout the season, over his
college career he increased his scoring average every year and was
selected 1st team All-Conference three times. He concluded his career
at Tulane with 2209 points, a 17.7 scoring average for four years, 419
assists, 870 rebounds, and 235 steals. A good all-around player,
Honeycutt is the perfect addition for the Hawks.
The only concern about Honeycutt is that he won't get excited about
some games. This lack of excitement sometimes leads to poor playing on
his part. Atlanta cannot afford to have a bench player with Honeycutt's
skills not contributing. You can expect Laettner to whip him into shape if
this ever becomes a problem.
IV. Others considered
Maurice Taylor, running from possible NCAA sanctions at UM?
Shea Seals, big time player...but can he produce at the next level?
Austin Croshere, can his strong NCAA performance carry over?
V. Who they will really choose
Lenny Wilkens has said time and time again that he needs quality
bench depth and a back-up SF for soon-to-be retired Tyrone Corbin.
Honeycutt fits perfectly into their plans and I fully expect them to choose
the best SF available at the time.
Look for them to pick other SF / SG combo players with the 50th and
51st picks. Perhaps they can pick up Bubba Wells, Vincent Rainey, or
Jeff Capel with these late second round picks to bolster their bench.
VI. Other moves
In the off-season, the Hawks need to re-sign free-agents Jon Barry,
Eldridge Recasner, and Tyrone Corbin. They should clean house
otherwise. Get rid of Ken Norman and the rest of their minimum-wage
bench to make way for another younger free-agent. Recasner showed
great promise in the playoffs and may be the back-up guard that they
need to fill the space of Smith and Blaylock.