ATLANTA - One year ago, the Atlanta Hawks drafted Marvin Williams only days after his 19th birthday and then protected the developing player most of the season.
On Wednesday, the Hawks took 22-year-old Shelden Williams with the fifth pick of the draft, and they believe this first-round pick can take a faster path to significant playing time or even a starting role.
Shelden Williams, who was a four-year starter at Duke, won't be babied like Marvin Williams, who wasn't even a starter in his only college season at North Carolina.
''Certainly that he's a fourth-year player, we think he'll be able to contribute more rapidly,'' Hawks general manager Billy Knight said Thursday after introducing Shelden Williams and second-round pick Solomon Jones of South Florida at a news conference.
''We think he'll pick things up quickly,'' Knight said. ''The transition from the NCAA to the NBA should be easier for him. He's more mature physically.''
Williams (6-9, 250) and Jones (6-10, 230) are post players - able to play power forward or center - with defensive credentials. That signals a change from coach Mike Woodson's 2005-06 lineup, where starting power forward Al Harrington, who has the skills of a small forward, was known more for offense.
Harrington was an outside scoring threat. Williams is a true inside player whose scoring is more likely to come from rebounds.
''For the first time in 15 years, I feel like we're drafting right,'' said co-owner Michael Gearon. ''(Williams) is the guy Billy wanted, and I think this is exactly what we need. This is a guy who bangs, who is strong, who rebounds and blocks shots.''
By adding Williams and Jones, the Hawks may be less likely to try to keep Harrington, an unrestricted free agent as of Saturday. Knight may try to package Harrington in a sign-and-trade deal, perhaps for a point guard.
Knight said it was important to use both draft picks on inside players because the team had so little depth behind starting center Zaza Pachulia following the death of backup center Jason Collier before the season.
John Edwards and Esteban Batista were the only backups with any significant size, but they had a combined 25 games experience before last season and were often overmatched.
Williams won't be expected to match Harrington's 18.6 points per game, but Williams may give the Hawks an immediate upgrade in defensive rebounding and shot-blocking.
''Defense always came kind of natural for me,'' Williams said Thursday. ''That's something I was taught at a young age.''
Woodson said ''it's going to be a learning curve'' for Williams and Jones, but the two may feel like they're still in college when they see the youth of their teammates.
Woodson talked about playing a front line that would include Pachulia, 22; Josh Smith, 20; and either Marvin Williams, 20, or Shelden Williams, who will turn 23 in October. Even fifth-year shooting guard Joe Johnson is only 25. Guard Josh Childress is 23.
The Hawks say it is believed they had the youngest roster in NBA history at the end of last season, with an average age of 23.
Guard Tyronn Lue, 29, is the only player on the roster who was not born in the 1980s.
When surrounded by so many players his age or even younger, Williams may not feel like a rookie for long.
''He's going to be fine,'' Woodson said. ''It's going to be up to me and my staff to make sure he heads in the right direction. ... He's already ahead of the game. I just think it's a matter of how hard he's willing to work, which I don't think will be a problem.''
Williams, who wore No. 23 at Duke, will wear No. 33 with the Hawks, who have retired Lou Hudson's No. 23. Jones was assigned No. 44.