The Atlanta Hawks have drafted some excellent players over the years. Here are the 15 best draft picks in Hawks franchise history.
Founded back in 1946 as the Buffalo Bisons, the Hawks have been a team that is almost always in the mix for playoff contention. The team might be rebuilding entering the 2018-19 NBA season, but the Atlanta Hawks won’t be down for long. This team has two promising young players in former first-round picks in small forward Taurean Prince and power forward John Collins.
Prince is entering year three, while Collins is entering his sophomore season in the league. So this naturally leads into the exercise we’re going to attempt today. Of course, both players will likely climb up this list, but they aren’t quite some of the best draft picks the franchise has made to date.
That’s because the Hawks have a proud history across multiple stops along the way. From Buffalo to the Tri-Cities Blackhawks to the Milwaukee Hawks to the St. Louis Hawks, this organization has done a phenomenal job historically of drafting high-end players. Many have made NBA All-Star Games. Some have made All-NBA and All-Defensive teams. A few have earned enshrinement in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Before we begin, we must clarify two players that won’t make this list: Dominique Wilkins and Pau Gasol. Wilkins might be the very best player in franchise history. However, he was originally drafted by the Utah Jazz No. 3 overall in the 1982 NBA Draft out of Georgia. He would be traded to Atlanta where he would have a dozen incredible seasons.
Gasol was originally drafted by Atlanta No. 3 overall in the 2001 NBA Draft. However, he would never play in Atlanta. He was traded to the then Vancouver Grizzlies for hometown hero Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Abdur-Rahim was a solid player for Atlanta, but Gasol has carved out a hall of fame career of his own mostly with the Grizzlies and the Los Angeles Lakers.
So let’s get down to it. Here are the 15 best draft picks the Hawks have made in franchise history.
Honorable Mentions: Stacey Augmon, SG/SF, UNLV (1991, No. 9), John Battle, SG, Rutgers (1985, No. 84), John Brown, SF, Missouri (1973, No. 10), Josh Childress, SG, Stanford (2004, No. 6), Armond Hill, PG, Princeton (1976, No. 9), Jon Koncak, C, SMU (1985, No. 5), Dennis Schroder, PG, Phantoms Braunschweig, Germany (2013, No. 17), Mike Scott, PF, Virginia (2012, No. 43), Paul Silas, PF, Creighton (1964, No. 10), Marvin Williams, SF, North Carolina (2005, No. 2)
Back before he was getting pre-championship tattoos for teams he played on that didn’t get to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy, guard Jason Terry was an excellent player for the Hawks in the early 2000s. Atlanta took the former Arizona Wildcats standout No. 10 overall in the 1999 NBA Draft. The former first-team All-American and Pac-10 Player of the Year would be a shining glimmer of hope in a bad period for Hawks basketball.
Terry would make the All-Rookie second team in 1999-00 when he averaged 8.1 points and 4.3 assists per game in 23.3 minutes per contest. For the next four years, you could just pencil Terry into the starting lineup in Atlanta. He would average at least 16.8 points and 4.9 assists during his remaining time with the Hawks.
In 2004, Terry and teammate Alan Henderson would be traded to the Dallas Mavericks for Antoine Walker and Tony Delk. While Delk and Walker would never live up to the hype in Atlanta, Terry would flourish in a sixth man role in Dallas. He won NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2008-09 and was finally an NBA Champion as a member of the 2010-11 Mavericks.
At age 40, Terry is still kicking it in the Milwaukee Bucks backcourt. Though he’ll never have his jersey retired anywhere, Terry will be remembered for his versatility on offense as a combo-guard and for being an excellent teammate on several contending squads. Except in Atlanta, as the Hawks never qualified for a postseason when he was with the team. He averaged 16.2 points and 4.1 assists per game in his five years with the Hawks.