The good people of SB Nation are putting together a “mock expansion draft” and every single site (read: NBA team) is jumping in the mix. In short, the Atlanta Hawks must protect eight players from their current, 14-man roster and that leaves the organization with six unprotected players for the expansion clubs to potentially nab.
Below are the choices for both categories, beginning with the unprotected group in alphabetical order.
- Luke Babbitt – The newly-signed forward is on a bargain deal and provides a ton of shooting. With that said, it’s a one-year minimum contract and he likely isn’t a huge part of the future in Atlanta.
- Marco Belinelli – Belinelli was the final cut from the protected section. He is appropriately paid as an offense-first bench option but the expiring deal doesn’t do him any favors here and neither does his age.
- Nicolas Brussino – Brussino is an intriguing prospect with some upside but he is (very) raw and isn’t really in consideration at this point.
- Malcolm Delaney – Delaney is appropriately paid and should bounce back from a shooting standpoint when taking into account his past performance. With that said, the 28-year-old guard is on an expiring contract and that matters in this context.
- Tyler Dorsey – Dorsey fans won’t like this and letting a mid-second round pick from this year go wouldn’t be ideal. However, Dorsey has offensive upside but, at the moment, isn’t fit for NBA play and is only under contract for two years.
- Miles Plumlee – Plumlee is on one of the ten worst contracts in the NBA and, even if he proves to be useful (not out of the question), that makes him a lock for the unprotected section of this list.
- Kent Bazemore – This is the controversial one. Would Belinelli (or even Babbitt or Delaney) be better choices? That is a reasonable argument to make. Bazemore is on a negative value contract based on the spending spree that took place in the summer of 2016. That isn’t really up for debate. However, he is a starting-caliber wing in a league that needs those in a big way and, at the end of the day, there isn’t a high-end contract/asset to choose from to send him away.
- DeAndre Bembry – Bembry might not be a starter long-term but his basketball IQ and varied skill set really stand out in a positive way. Moreover, he is quite cheap and under control for a while.
- John Collins – Everybody loves John Collins. He may not be good as a rookie (most rookies aren’t) but there is real talent here and it would be criminal to let him get away.
- Dewayne Dedmon – Dedmon’s contract isn’t especially forgiving for Atlanta in that, if he has a good season, he’ll likely decline his player option and return to the market. Still, he is a starting-caliber player that is relatively young and, at the very least, Dedmon could be moved for value.
- Ersan Ilyasova – Ilyasova is in a nearly identical situation to Belinelli but, in short, he’s better at basketball.
- Mike Muscala – Much like Dedmon, there isn’t a ton of upside based on the player-friendly contract Muscala signed. In the same breath, he is a Hawks “lifer” at this point and is underpaid at $5 million.
- Taurean Prince – A young, two-way wing with starter potential on a rookie contract. Any questions?
- Dennis Schroder – Schröder, for all of his faults, is the best player on the Hawks roster at this very moment. The contract isn’t a massive win but it’s fine and he’s an easy choice.
In the end, most of these choices are easy but there is plenty of room for discussion and arguments. Fire away.