2020 NBA Draft: Atlanta Hawks must give Trae Young another running partner

By Vincent Frank
Feb 10, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) drives to the basket against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks finished this past season with a 20-46 record, good enough for the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference.

It was not what the team had envisioned under second-year head coach Lloyd Pierce. In fact, Atlanta did not improve from his initial season in that role.

Young guard Trae Young continues to be among the best young players in the game. General manager Travis Schlenk also added an inside threat in that of Clint Capela during February’s trade deadline.

Despite this, the Hawks need to find more star power and a running partner to team up with Young. That’s where the focus needs to be with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Here, we delve into the Hawks’ best options with said selection and throughout the entire draft.

Atlanta Hawks should trade John Collins for a lottery pick

  • When Atlanta dealt for fellow big man Clint Capela ahead of the trade deadline, it showed that the team was not interested in retaining the 22-year-old Collins long-term. Issues on the defensive end of the court coupled with his high asking price in an extension added to this belief.
  • Collins is still a valuable option on the trade block. Here’s a big that averaged 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds last season. The Hawks should easily be able to net a lottery pick and a young player in return.
  • Looking at the options, a team like the Washington Wizards selecting No. 9 overall could make sense. They need a big to go with Bradley Beal. Could Atlanta net the ninth selection and a young wing like Troy Brown Jr. for Collins? The Sacramento Kings have not been one to hide from acquiring bigs. The 12th pick and a bench player in that of Richaun Holmes could make sense, too.

Target John Collins’ replacement with the sixth pick

  • If Atlanta were to move on from the power forward in a trade, it would like to find someone more capable from the intermediate range and perimeter. It’s the way Schlenk helped build the juggernaut in Golden State — a stretch forward.
  • The issue here is that drafts are not typically filled with bigs who can shoot from the outside. When they exist, these players go much higher than the sixth pick. Atlanta could either package other picks in a move up for Dayton’s Obi Toppin or target former Maryland stud Jalen Smith. Both have that capability.
  • The other option here would be moving either the sixth pick or the selection acquired in the hypothetical Collins trade to add a proven stretch four with the ample cap room Atlanta boasts.
  • That latter option is intriguing in that the likes of Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge and even Lauri Markkanen could potentially be had in trades.

Go all in, move up to near the top of the first round

  • If Atlanta wants to really find that true running partner for Trae Young, moving up to the first or second pick could make the most sense come draft day.
  • The team has necessary assets to entice either Minnesota or Golden State, picking No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. This includes the above-mentioned Collins as well as a 2022 first-round pick (from the Thunder).
  • A trade of this ilk would be to solely give Atlanta the ability to add LaMelo Ball to the mix. He’d be a tremendous fit with Young in that Ball can take over ball-handling duties and is a tremendous passer. Imagine Young seeing more open looks from distance. That’s lethal. It’s also what the Atlanta’s general manager had in Northern California.

Bottom line

The lack of improvement from Atlanta this past regular season was worrisome. Flush with young talent in that of Young, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter, much more was expected from this team.

There’s a chance Pierce just isn’t equipped to handle the job of head coach. Though, it’s more likely that the Hawks just have not found that mix.

It’s time to continue catering this team around Young’s talents. Whether that’s adding a back-court partner in crime or elevating his game with a stretch-four, this needs to be Atlanta’s primary focus during the 2020 NBA Draft.