The Atlanta Hawks saw their season end at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers by getting swept in the NBA Playoffs. It was a rough way to go out, but there were plenty of bright spots throughout the year. Many expect that Atlanta will undergo a major roster overhaul this offseason, but it is clear that the Hawks need to bring in an impact player in the 2016 NBA Draft.
Al Horford is set to hit open free agency, as is underrated wingman Kent Bazemore. Rumor has it that the Hawks will strongly consider trading star point guard Jeff Teague for the right price as well.
Looking ahead at the draft, the Hawks are looking like they will have the No. 21 overall pick.
There are plenty of players who could be impact players for the Hawks at that point in the draft. They may not come in and be immediate starters, but there will be a solid bench piece at the very least on the board.
All of that being said, which five prospects would be the best fits when the Hawks come up to draft at No. 21?
Damian Jones, Center, Vanderbilt Commodores
If the Hawks end up losing Horford in free agency, Damian Jones would make a lot of sense for them. He stands at six-foot-11 and showed a very well-rounded skill-set last season for Vanderbilt. Jones averaged 13.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game throughout the season and shot 59.0 percent from the floor overall.
Tyler Ulis, Point Guard, Kentucky Wildcats
Atlanta could trade Teague as we mentioned earlier, which would make Tyler Ulis an intriguing fit for the Hawks. Dennis Schroder would step up to be the starting point guard, while Ulis could come in and be an excellent backup for the Hawks. Last season with the Kentucky Wildcats, Ulis averaged 17.3 points, 7.0 assists, and 3.0 rebounds per game while knocking down 43.4 percent of his shots overall and 34.4 percent from behind the three-point arc.
Taurean Prince, Small Forward, Baylor Bears
Another player that would make a lot of sense for the Hawks would be Baylor small forward Taurean Prince. He averaged 15.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game last season and showed the ability to play high caliber defense as well. Atlanta could use a future starting small forward with Kyle Korver aging and Prince could very well be that guy for them.
Brice Johnson, Power Forward, North Carolina Tar Heels
Perhaps a power forward could be in play for the Hawks, and there is a chance that North Carolina’s Brice Johnson could fall to the No. 21 pick. Johnson had a huge season for the Tar Heels last season, averaging 17.0 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. He would be a perfect fit for the Hawks and has a lot of potential left.
Denzel Valentine, Shooting Guard, Michigan State Spartans
Saving one of the biggest names in the draft for last, there is no telling where Michigan State star shooting guard Denzel Valentine will go in the draft. He put up massive numbers for the Spartans last season, averaging 19.2 points, 7.8 assists, and 7.5 rebounds per game last season. Atlanta would be able to plug him into their rotation immediately and receive a scoring bump, which is something that they need in a big way.
Expect to see the Hawks be very active throughout the upcoming NBA offseason. They have a lot of decisions to make and a few different holes that need to be filled. Atlanta should be able to get a piece that will help immediately in the draft, and one of these five players could be the right fit.
Who do you think the Atlanta Hawks should draft in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft? Do you think that one of these five players would be the right pick? Let us know in the comment box below!
[Photo by Winslow Townson/AP Images]