Atlanta Hawks: 15 best NBA Draft picks of all-time

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Oak Hill Academy (VA), 2004 (No. 17). Josh Smith. 13. player. 125. . SF/PF

It was only a matter of time before forward Josh Smith would make the list. While he has never made an NBA All-Star Game in his decade-plus basketball career, Smith was a physical specimen during his time with his hometown Hawks for nine seasons. Atlanta drafted Smith No. 17 overall in the 2004 NBA Draft out of high school. He played his senior season at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, but he first made a name for himself as the star player for the McEachern Indians over in nearby Powder Springs, Georgia.

Right out of the gate, Smith was an immediate starter for the Hawks in his late teens and early 20s. He would make the NBA All-Rookie second team in 2004-05. That winter saw Smith average 9.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 27.7 minutes per contest. The next season, Smith won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. J-Smoove had officially arrived.

Beginning in year four with the club, Smith would be an important starting piece on six-straight playoff teams in Atlanta. He started at the four on the 2007-08 Nothing Easy Hawks. Two years later, Smith would have best season, as he would be named to the NBA All-Defensive second team. He consistently averaged over 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists during his time in Hawks uniform.

Smith would leave Atlanta in 2013 NBA free agency to sign with the Detroit Pistons. That was a disaster for Detroit. Smith would re-emerge as a key piece on the 2014-15 Houston Rockets team that went to the Western Conference Finals alongside childhood friend Dwight Howard. Smith played in three games for the 2017-18 New Orleans Pelicans. While his NBA career is hanging on by a thread, he did have a stellar nine-year run with the Hawks. He averaged 15.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while playing for his hometown team.