The Atlanta Hawks have struggled lately and find themselves sitting outside of the Top 8 seeds in the Eastern Conference Playoff Picture. However, with 58 games remaining, there are too many games left to begin to question if these Hawks will make the postseason. The biggest concern for the 2016-17 Atlanta Hawks sits at the shooting guard position. Prior to the Hawks contest against Oklahoma City, coach Mike Budenholzer made the decision to have Kyle Korver come off the bench instead of starting due to the lack of production from the former All-Star thus far during the season. Budenholzer went on to say that the move was not short term; giving the impression that this idea was floating around for a while.
Two games after the first lineup change, the Hawks started Thabo Sefolosha and Tim Hardaway Jr. in the shooting guard position. Although production has increased significantly although a very minute sample size, in order for the Hawks to get back to a championship level, this is a position that will have to be addressed. During the Hawks Eastern Conference championship run in 2014, shooting guard position Kyle Korver had one of the best seasons we’ve seen in recent history at the position and his outside shooting was lethal during the regular season.
Korver shot (48%) from the field, (49% ) from behind the arc as well as attempting more than six three pointers per game. If you measure his production up to this season, it is quite alarming; Korver is currently shooting (44%) from the field and (39%) from the three-point line with only four attempts per game. Although the Hawks have found some valuable production in the combination of Thabo Sefolosha and TIm Hardaway Jr. splitting time at the two-guard, this is a key component to the roster that we’ll need to address in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Moving along, one of the potential future star shooting guards in a Hawks uniform could be Terrance Ferguson out of Flower Mound, Texas. The 6’7, 18-year-old former five-star guard, whom previously committed to the University of Arizona, decided to forgo college and to play professional basketball overseas in Australia after what would have been his freshman year in college. Ferguson currently plays overseas for the Adelaide 36er’s, a basketball club in Australia, where he currently averages (7.0) points per game, (1.4) rebounds per game, and (0.8)assists per game. In several early NBA Mock Drafts, Ferguson is projected as the #16 pick overall in the upcoming draft.
Hawks fans should be very excited if Atlanta acquires Ferguson. He has a tremendous upside to his game and would possibly become an immediate starter if the Hawks didn’t sign a veteran to bridge the gap in Free Agency. Ferguson has outstanding leaping ability and he’s notable for being a consistent outside shooter especially with his feet set; he can shoot in transition but at this stage, he’s much better when the offense places him in a position to knock down a basket. Another key flaw Atlanta has at the two is their inability to defend opposing shooting guards, however, Ferguson would provide an answer to the defensive woes. He’s a tremendous defender and his feet are so quick that he can actually defend point guards as well.
Ferguson has a 6’9 wingspan, which allows him to contest as well as recover on missed assignments and help side defensive sets. As every young talent will have entering their first year in the NBA, Ferguson does have some weaknesses that hinder his ability to be a #1 overall draft pick. He’ll need to hit the weight room as he currently weigh 186 pound and could be a defensive liability whenever he’s switched on to a 4 or 5 due to his lack of experience defending players that are solid with playing the 24- second shot clock. However, those were similar traits that scouts found same negatives in NBA star Kevin Durant and it hasn’t hindered is stardom at all. Other key areas Ferguson will have to improve by June is his overall production on offensive. There have been moments where his game becomes vanilla and with the lack of ability to dribble with both hands (right hand dominant), it could possibly handicap his progress and prevent him from potentially emerging as a young star in the NBA.
Also, Ferguson will have to work on his mid range shot, which is something the Hawks love from their players. Yes, he can knock down six or seven threes in a row; however,if you can’t hit the midrange shot, your production becomes limited and limits your production in the case you go cold from beyond the arc. Ferguson plays with a lot of confidence and proved how he can change a game when he gets going from three. There’s not a whole lot to Ferguson’s overall game but with his size, shooting ability, range, on-ball defense, there’s certainly a chance he becomes a super star within his first three years in the NBA. The Hawks are a good team when they have all their pieces, Ferguson could help them reach even higher limits as early as year one. I expect the Hawks to draft a SG in this year’s NBA Draft as early as the first round and I think Terrance Ferguson is your guy.
By: Michael R. Thomas II