NBA fans have developed an unhealthy obsession with blaming the front office for everything wrong or about to go wrong with the team. The worst thing that can happen is missing out on a generational player in the draft. For example, the Blazers passing up on Michael Jordan in the 1984 NBA Draft. The same goes with Charlotte Hornets fans who saw Kobe Bryant go to the LA Lakers in exchange for Vlade Divac in 1996.
Atlanta Hawks executives almost suffered the same fate after trading Luka Doncic to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Trae Young. Doncic quickly blew up and was even involved in MVP conversations during his rookie year. Fortunately for the Hawks, Young caught up. Now, Doncic and Young are regarded as two of the best players of their draft class. In a recent interview, the Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk gave an honest-to-goodness view of their headspace leading up to the NBA Draft. It turns out that executives are not fortune tellers or psychics who can predict who’ll be the next big thing.
"Both those guys are really good players and they've been really good players since Day 1 when they stepped into the NBA. For us, it was having the ability to get a player that we thought was going to be a really good player and the other asset on top of it. One of the theories that we always had when you're drafting in the top of the lottery, you know, top 10, it's not an exact science, so the more swings you have at that to get a superstar [the better]. You always hear the pundits say, "We knew this guy was going to be great." No one ever really knows."
Travis Shlenk, CBS
The terms of the deal did not just involve a straight-up Doncic-Young swap. It also involved a 2019 first-round pick that went to the Hawks. They used it the following year to select Duke standout Cam Reddish as their 10th overall pick. For Schlenk, everything was worth it in the end.
With how the Hawks’ 2020-21 NBA campaign went — the fact that they ousted favorites New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs — those who poked fun at Schlenk and his crew must be hiding in their caves right now. As Schlenk implied, there’s an element of luck in the NBA Draft since there’s always that chance that he'll be a bust even after scouting a prospect to death. As such, you don’t enter the NBA Draft with the upcoming season in mind. A clear view of the future is imperative. Safe to say, the Hawks succeeded in both endeavors.