ATLANTA (AP) – The Atlanta Hawks draft room was split between Luka Doncic and Trae Young.
The Hawks ultimately chose Young because he brought the Hawks a first-round draft pick.
The Hawks added a new floor leader to their rebuilding effort by acquiring Young in Thursday night’s exchange of NBA draft picks with the Dallas Mavericks.
Atlanta drafted Doncic, the guard from Slovenia, with the No. 3 overall pick and then traded rights to Doncic to Dallas for rights to Young, who was the No. 5 selection, and a 2019 first-round pick.
For Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk, it was all about remaining loyal to goals of adding talent and adding assets .
“In all honesty, our group was really split between the two,” Schlenk said, adding the Hawks regarded the guards as “the best two playmakers in the draft.”
“Luka is a heck of a player. We were happy with him. Trae is a heck of a player. Obviously we’re excited to have him. When the opportunity came to pick up a first-round pick from the Mavericks, it just kind of made sense to accomplish both goals with one move.”
The Hawks will have three first-round picks in 2019, just as in this year’s draft.
Young is best known for his 3-point shooting. The Hawks selected Maryland’s Kevin Huerter, a shooting guard, at No. 19 overall. Atlanta’s third first-round pick was power forward Omari Spellman of Villanova, at No. 30 overall.
Atlanta traded its second-round pick, Kansas point guard Devonte Graham, to Charlotte for second-round selections in 2019 and 2023.
Schlenk focused on outside shooters in the draft.
Young led the nation with his averages of 27.4 points and 8.7 assists for Oklahoma. He is the first player to lead the nation in scoring and assists in the same season.
Huerter made 42 percent of his 3-point shots as a sophomore last season at Maryland while averaging 14.8 points per game.
Spellman (6-9, 255) was considered one of the best shooters among big men in the draft. He made 43 percent of his 3s last season while averaging 10.9 points as a freshman starter on Villanova’s national championship team.
Young worked out for the Hawks on June 12. He said the trade to Atlanta wasn’t a surprise.
“I got a feeling past few days that would happen, that was a possibility, but you never really know until your name is called,” Young said in a telephone interview.
The 6-foot-2 Young scored at least 40 points in four games and tied a Division I record by recording 22 assists in a game.
Young’s deep 3-pointers earned him comparisons with Golden State’s Stephen Curry, but Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said he was won over by Young’s floor leadership.
“We love his ability to pass the ball, to make other players better with his court vision,” said Schlenk, a former assistant GM with the Warriors. “Obviously he gets a lot of notoriety for his long-range shooting, but I think his ability to pass the ball is what we really liked about him.”
Schlenk’s review impressed Young.
“It means a lot because a lot of people in my opinion are so focused on my ability to shoot, which is a really big thing, especially in the NBA, but my ability to pass I feel is really underrated,” Young said.
Hawks veteran point guard Dennis Schroder’s future in Atlanta is uncertain. Schlenk said Schroder and Young could play together.
This is not the first time the Hawks have quickly traded the No. 3 overall pick. In 2001, the Hawks made Pau Gasol the No. 3 overall pick and then traded his draft rights to the Memphis Grizzlies for Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
Doncic was Atlanta’s highest draft pick since 2007, when center Al Horford was the No. 3 pick. The trade for Young gives first-year coach Lloyd Pierce a new scoring weapon.
“Obviously his ability to shoot the ball in today’s NBA, the 3-point shot, is very important,” Schlenk said. “What really separates him with his shooting is his ability to shoot off the dribble. You don’t see that in a lot of guys and he possesses that.”
The Hawks finished last in the Eastern Conference last season, when they began to rely heavily on young players. Forward-center John Collins showed promise as a rookie, and forward Taurean Prince is another young piece of the rebuilding effort. Veterans Kent Bazemore and Dwayne Dedmon are under contract for next season.
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