The Atlanta Hawks are an interesting team, quite frankly, but not for all the reasons a franchise should want them to be.
Despite drafting one of the most talented players in their history in Trae Young and building — albeit slowly — around him over the course of five seasons, the Hawks were embroiled in constant drama and controversy.
Most of which has had to do with Young.
Are the Hawks bringing in the right pieces around him? Are they bringing in the right coaches for the offense? Is Trae himself actually culpable in their underperformance? Has he been coachable enough?
The truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle.
Atlanta has acquired multiple players that have demonstrated their potential to be part of their core. In fact, their entire rotation, including first-round picks AJ Griffin and Jalen Johnson, has done so.
Lloyd Pierce, for all the faults his inexperience brought, empowered Young to play to his style.
Nate McMillan, perhaps a bit too dogged in his philosophies, brought the Hawks to the playoffs and sought to hold even Young accountable.
Now with Quin Snyder in as a breath of fresh air and modernizing the offensive approach, Atlanta may have its best coach yet.
Young has earned the questions about his coachability given the circumstances surrounding Pierce and McMillan’s firings. However, he also has often taken the challenge to improve his defense when asked and been more willing to let his teammates score as well.
Nonetheless, due to the questions surrounding Young — as well as Murray’s contract status — the Hawks need to address their point guard position this offseason. The best way of which could be selecting Indiana Hoosiers guard Jalen Hood-Schifino with the 15th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Why Hawks must target Jalen Hood-Schifino in 2023 NBA Draft
Indiana Hoosiers guard Jalen Hood-Schifino is a one-and-done prospect that averaged 13.5 points, 3.7 assists, and 0.8 steals per game while starting in every contest for the Mike Woodson-led squad.
The 2023 Big 10 Rookie of the Year, Hood-Schifino is a big guard at 6-foot-6 and 213 pounds that has the chance to be elite at the next level. A true point guard that excels at getting to his spots — typically in the midrange — with his craftiness, basketball IQ, and ball-handling ability, it’s easy to see Hood-Schifino excelling immediately with the Atlanta Hawks.
Though he needs to improve his consistency from 3-point range, shooting 33.3 percent from 3 in 2022-23, Hood projects to be a 3-level scorer that excels as a facilitator as well. In fact, Hood-Schifino is arguably the best passer in the 2023 NBA Draft, which only increases his value to the Hawks.
So too does his defense, as Hood plays with perfect technique and uses his physical gifts — which includes a 6-foot-10 wingspan — to make life difficult for would-be scorers.
With the Hawks, he would ideally spend his rookie season leading the second unit during the dreaded non-Trae minutes. Atlanta has yet to have a backup point guard of his caliber in the Trae Young Era, specifically a player that can create for himself and others at high-level.
Yet, at his size, he could play beside Young or Dejounte Murray in certain lineups. He could feasibly even play in a three-guard front with both Trae and Dejounte.
To that end, Hood-Schifino also gives Atlanta a prospect that can replace Young if they were to trade him. Or who can replace Murray if there were any issues signing him to a contract extension or re-signing him in the 2024 offseason.
All things considered, there might not be a better draft pick — a better fitting player — for the Hawks.
The 19-year-old has all the intangibles a team is looking for and makes his teammates better with his passing instincts and basketball IQ. No stranger to meeting high expectations, Hood-Schifino should hit the ground running in Atlanta.
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