I'm happy, but not overjoyed with the Hawks' draft decisions last night. If the rumors about the team rejecting a trade for Amare Stoudemire are true, then the evening was a failure relative to what it could have brought, but we'll probably never know. That aside, I like the pick of Al Horford. I would have been happy with either him or Conley. Horford was the best player available and gives the Hawks a potent front line. Billy Knight is clearly wanting to win now, as he took a college junior and a college senior who are ready to play now (we hope). I'm now excited for NBA Opening Night.
The reasoning for not taking Conley - with Joe Johnson, the Hawks need a point guard who can hit threes and make opponents pay for doubling Joe - makes perfect sense to me. The moment that the Hawks passed on Conley, the discussion on 790 immediately went to "is this passing on Chris Paul again" and I was shouting at my radio "Chris Paul was a great shooter in college! Stop fighting the last war!" Conley may very well turn out to be an excellent player, but he's not a perfect fit for this team. Then again, I wouldn't have been overly disappointed to see the Hawks roll the dice on the possibility that Conley will improve his shot.
Although I will root like hell for him, I'm not that geeked about Acie Law for the reasons I set forth before. He reminds me way too much of Randolph Childress. Compare the bios of Childress and Law if you don't agree: same stats, same size, same reputation for being clutch. I hope I'm wrong about Law and I must admit that I was excited to see that he hit 45.8% from behind the arc last year. That said, he's still a scoring point without Iverson/Terry quickness, which does not bode well.
I would have preferred the Hawks make the rumored Josh Childress for Jose Calderon deal. I like Childress's game a lot, but dealing him would have alleviated the logjam at the forward spots and brought a very impressive point guard to Atlanta. The team then could have gone with the best available player at #11, although I'm not sure who that would have been. Maybe Crittenden with the thinking being that he'll get 2-3 years to mature while Calderon is the starter and Speedy or Lue are the backups?
Mark Bradley is quite positive and thinks that the Hawks should be a playoff team next year. A contrasting view was provided by Der Wife, who proclaimed that she is not at all happy with Billy Knight taking "another forward" and that she doesn't know how she feels about the Hawks right now. (Keep in mind that this is the same woman who happily went to a half a season's worth of home games of a 26-win team with me, and not just because our section won free burritos twice during the season.) We now have a standing bet on next season as to whether the Hawks will win more than 35 games, with the winner getting to design his/her own dream date. (Note to the Georgia Theatre: if you could show Gladiator or Braveheart after a 3:30 Georgia home game in 2008, that would be lovely. The Kinchafoonee Cowboys will understand.
Incidentally, one ancillary benefit to Billy Knight's moves last night is that Bill Simmons has now and forever lost the right to rip into Billy since Knight did exactly what Simmons as the self-proclaimed "VP of Common Sense" implored him to do.