With the Third Pick in the 2007 NBA Draft..

June 20th, 2007

With the Third Pick in the 2007 NBA Draft the Atlanta Hawks select…? When commissioner David Stern utters these words on June 28th it will mark the point when the 2007 draft really gets underway. It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that Portland will take Greg Oden at #1 and Seattle will snatch up Kevin Durant at #2. Pick #3, property of the Hawks, is where things will start getting interesting.

The fact that the order of the remainder of the draft lies in the Atlanta Hawks’ hands must be rather disconcerting for the rest of the league’s GMs*. The Hawks have proven to not be very astute judges of draft talent. There is a reason they haven’t made the playoffs for eight years running. A quick rundown of the team’s past top draft picks illustrates why they haven’t seen the postseason since the 1990s.

2006 - #5 – Shelden Williams – passed on Brandon Roy
2005 - #2 – Marvin Williams – passed on Chris Paul & Deron Williams
2004 - #6 – Josh Childress – passed on Luol Deng
2003 - #21 – Boris Diaw – passed on Leandro Barbosa & Josh Howard

The Hawks actually had the #3 overall pick before, back in 2001. That is also the last time that they made a solid choice with their pick, choosing Pau Gasol. They then promptly traded him to Memphis as part of a deal to get Shareef Abdur-Rahim. That deal didn’t quite work out like the Hawks hoped.

It should be interesting to see what the Hawks will do this year, when they also have the #11 pick in the draft. The team is searching for a point guard, and if they’re lucky Mike Conley Jr. will still be available at the #11 slot. But the Hawks aren’t lucky, so he’ll probably be gone by then. As for pick #3, the consensus seems to be that they should snatch UNC’s Brandan Wright, who outside of Oden & Durant has the most upside in the draft. Florida’s Al Horford would be a safer pick, but he doesn’t have quite as much potential as Wright. If they really want to roll the dice, they could go for Yi Jianlian and wait a few years for him to develop.

Regardless of whom the Hawks pick, if the past continues to repeat itself, it is bound to cause outsiders to scratch their heads. The big winner of all this should be the Phoenix Suns, who owns the Hawks’ pick in next year’s draft as a result of the Joe Johnson-Boris Diaw swap. It’s bound to be a lottery pick - because, hey, it’s not a lottery without the Hawks in it.

* - Or it’s a benefit for the other GM’s because it means the best talent will drop..