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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Kevin Willis, Atlanta Hawks
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Even though he was a seven-footer, he spent the bulk of his NBA career playing power forward. It was a different era in the NBA, but Kevin Willis was an excellent player for the Atlanta Hawks and several other teams into his mid-40s. Atlanta drafted Willis No. 11 overall in the 1984 NBA Draft out of Michigan State.

Willis played his first 10 NBA seasons with the Hawks, and 11 over his 23-year-long NBA career. In total, Willis played in 21 NBA seasons with eight different organizations. Obviously, the bulk of them came in Atlanta uniform. Beginning in his second season in the league, Willis was a prominent feature in the Hawks’ starting lineup at the four. Outside of a knee injury that kept him out for the entire 1988-89 NBA season, Willis hardly ever missed time during his first stint with the Hawks.

Willis’ best season came in 1991-92 when he made his lone trip to the NBA All-Star Game, making the All-NBA third team as well. That winter saw Willis average 18.3 points, 15.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in 36.6 minutes per contest. He would average a double-double during the next five NBA seasons.

In 1994, Willis would be traded to the Miami Heat for popular shooting guard and fellow Michigan State Spartan Steve Smith. Willis would begin his career as a journeyman, never staying anywhere longer than 2.5 seasons. He would return to the Hawks during the 2004-05 campaign after winning his lone NBA title with the 2002-03 San Antonio Spurs. Willis retired in 2007 as a member of the Dallas Mavericks at 44 years old. While with the Hawks, Willis averaged 14.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game over 11 seasons.