The Hawks participated in the biggest draft-day trade of 2018, agreeing to move down two spots from No. 3 to No. 5 in a deal with the Mavericks. The trade will have a significant impact on both franchises going forward, with third overall pick Luka Doncic looking like a franchise player in Dallas while No. 5 pick Trae Young appears to be a foundational piece in Atlanta.
In an appearance on Adrian Wojnarowski’s Woj Pod, Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk revisited that blockbuster deal, explaining the thinking behind the move (hat tip to RealGM). According to Schlenk, Atlanta had been preparing to select Doncic at No. 3 – even tentatively letting agent Bill Duffy know when Doncic’s introductory press conference would take place – before the Mavs improved their trade offer on draft day.
“Not a lot of people know this,” Schlenk said. “If we would have stayed at three, we would have taken Luka. We had worked with his agent, he did a physical for us that morning in New York. … But then Dallas came in an hour or so before the draft. I told them all along that it would take another lottery pick for us to slide back, and that’s when the conversations got started.”
The price to move up two spots in 2018 was the Mavericks’ top-five protected 2019 first-rounder. While that pick wasn’t necessarily assured of becoming a lottery pick – and still isn’t – Schlenk told Wojnarowski that the work done by the Hawks’ analytics staff made him and the front office feel good about that selection.
“For us, what made (the trade) make sense is our analytics staff was projecting Dallas to finish eighth (in the reverse standings) this year,” Schlenk said.
As the Hawks’ GM observes, that projection looks pretty accurate so far — Dallas currently has the NBA’s ninth-worst record. Still, with draft experts somewhat bearish on the 2019 class as a whole, the Mavs will likely be fine with handing over a top-10 pick. Surrendering that selection gave them the opportunity to secure their first bona fide star since Dirk Nowitzki‘s decline began.