Hawks eyeing size in pre-draft workouts
The Atlanta Hawks finished their season with only one player on their roster whom they have drafted in the last three years – starting point guard Jeff Teague. On Saturday, they begin the process that could improve that total as they begin pre-draft workouts at Philips Arena.
The NBA Draft is on June 28.
Last year, the Hawks did not have a first-round pick, as they sent it to Washington as part of the Kirk Hinrich trade and selected forward Keith Benson in the second round but Benson did not make the roster.
Damion Jones, the team’s first-round pick in 2010, was traded on draft night as part of a deal for shooting guard Jordan Crawford, who was sent to Washington in the Hinrich deal. Pape Sy, the team’s second-round pick in 2010, did not make the roster following this past season’s lockout.
The Hawks, who will select 23rd and 43rd overall, are scheduled to bring 27 players in over a 10-day period. Ever since 2007 when the Hawks drafted Al Horford, who has become a two-time All-Star at center, the organization has searched in vain for a center to allow Horford to his natural position of power forward. Several players the Hawks are bringing could fit that bill and many of them are visiting on the same day, June 23.
Syracuse’s Fab Melo (7-foot, 244 pounds) is among those who could fall to the Hawks where they are picking. The Brazilian-born Melo was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore last season. He led the Orangemen in rebounding (5.8 per game), blocks (2.9) and field goal percentage (.566).
Georgetown’s Henry Sims (6-10, 245), who averaged 6.0 rebounds and 11.6 points per game in a four-year career in which he played 121 games, also visits on the 23rd.
A third big man in that day is Vanderbilt’s Festus Ezeli, who helped the Commodores to win the Southeastern Conference title over eventual national champion Kentucky and center Anthony Davis, the likely No. 1 overall pick this year. Ezeli missed almost a third of his final season because of injured ligaments in his knee. Nonetheless, the 6-11, 255-pounder finished with averages of 10.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game last season.
Another day for big men is June 21 when Duke’s Miles Plumlee (6-11, 225) and Wichita State’s Garrett Stutz (7-0, 255) visit. Plumlee, who has a 36-inch vertical leap, shot 61 percent last season while grabbing 7.1 rebounds per game. Stutz averaged 13.2 points and 8.0 rebounds for the Shockers, which were double his averages as a junior the year before.
One June 22, St. Bonaventure’s Andrew Nicholson, listed as a forward at 6-9, 240, will visit. He averaged 18.5 points and 8.4 rebounds playing in the Atlantic 10 as a senior, when he was an honorable-mention All-America selection.
Other notables include guards Deron Lamb and Darius Miller, two of the six members of the national champion Wildcats who entered in the draft; two more Vanderbilt players in guard John Jenkins, the SEC’s leading scorer the last two seasons, and forward Jeffery Taylor; first-team All-America forward Draymond Green of Michigan State; second-team All-America forward Kevin Jones of West Virginia; first-team All-ACC forward Mike Scott of Virginia; first-team All-Big 12 forward Royce White; Marquette forward Jae Crowder, a Villa Rica native who was the Big East Player of the Year; and Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor, a four-year starter for the NCAA runner-up Jayhawks.