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Hawks are the draft's difference makers


One of the most interesting calls in this year's NBA draft will come at No. 3.

Since most experts have already penned in Greg Oden as the top pick to Portland, and Kevin Durant at No. 2 to Seattle, the drama will come when Billy Knight and the Hawks make their selection.

Atlanta has had opportunities in the past to take a point guard. The Hawks had the chance to take Chris Paul or Deron Williams at #2 in 2005. Instead the team went for forward Marvin Williams out of North Carolina, going for potential, potential, potential.

It looks like the Hawks need a point guard, so there is the great question will they take Mike Conley Jr. out of Ohio State? Conley Jr. looks like his upside is better than any other point guard available? He has great quickness, his ability to finalize in transition, makes him a highly-regarded prospect after just one season at Ohio State.

Conley averaged over 11 ppg. and dished out 238 assists in 39 games with the Buckeyes. The son of 1992 Olympic gold medalist Mike Conley Sr. has the athleticism needed and he can pressure the ball defensively.

Will the Hawks add another frontcourt player like Al Horford out of Florida. Horford is a flat-out winner with two national championship rings. At 6-10, he could team up with Shelden Williams up front for a dynamic duo. He is so aggressive in the paint and he could be a positive force in Atlanta. The power player inside makes Horford tempting.

What about 6-11 Yi Jianlian as a surprise choice? The Chinese big man has good size and can step outside and hit the big shot. He can post down low and has skills for a big player.

The situation is simple. The third pick of this draft will dictate things to follow. The Hawks also have the 11th pick, so perhaps they will take a big player and hope that a guard between Conley, Acie Law and Javaris Crittenton are still available later on.

Whatever Atlanta does, all eyes will be commissioner David Stern when the Hawks are on the clock. You know where Oden and Durant are going, barring an incredible shock city. Atlanta has a tough call to make and a lot of talented options.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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