Atlanta seems to be a team on the rise. They have the 22nd pick. They are represented by:
John Shadle.

John selects:
Jerald Honeycutt


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 Tyrone Corbin. 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

II. Positions

A. Center

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.

B. Forwards

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.

C. Guards

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.

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