The immediate future of the Atlanta Hawks is cloudy as starters Josh Smith and Jeff Teague are set to test free agency, but a nice 2013 NBA Draft could provide a start toward figuring out the long-term climate in Atlanta. The Hawks have many free agents, tons of cap space and two first-round draft picks. If everything goes as planned for Danny Ferry's Hawks, they may even win a series in the first round of the playoffs in the future.
One big change has already happened. The Hawks allowed Larry Drew to walk away this offseason, despite his team making the NBA Playoffs even as the front office elected to relieve themselves of Joe Johnson's contract without getting a suitable replacement in return. Atlanta was able to hire Mike Budenholzer -- perennially one of the NBA's top assistants -- to replace Drew, however, and shouldn't expect much of a drop-off in terms of coaching.
The Hawks have back-to-back picks at Nos. 17 and 18, the second coming originally from the Houston Rockets as part of the Joe Johnson trade. Atlanta also picks for the Rockets in the second round (as part of a David Andersen deal in 2009), giving the Hawks the No. 47 and No. 50 picks in addition to their first-round selections.
Atlanta could be a player as far as future picks are concerned, too, as the team has the option to swap first round picks with the Brooklyn Nets in each of the next two drafts.
The Hawks have quite a few holes in their roster, especially if they don't re-sign Smith and Teague doesn't receive the $4.5 million qualifying offer Atlanta would need to extend to have a chance to keep the point guard in town. Horford is about the only constant in the lineup for next season, though Williams was playing pretty well last year prior to his torn ACL.
The biggest needs will depend largely on whether Josh Smith and Jeff Teague move on without anything in return, but that's pretty tough to determine prior to the draft. Depth inside will certainly be key, however, and fining someone to man the small forward spot on a permanent basis would be a welcome addition.
The Hawks could look inside for immediate help, picking someone like Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk (scouting report) or Duke's Mason Plumlee (scouting report). They could also select a project like big man Rudy Gobert (scouting report) or look for small forward help in the form of North Carolina's Reggie Bullock (scouting report).