The Best Players of the Atlanta Hawks Rebuild

Feb 28, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (20) and guard Kent Bazemore (24) react in the closing minute of their win against the Indiana Pacers at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 28, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (20) and guard Kent Bazemore (24) react in the closing minute of their win against the Indiana Pacers at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

Who were the five best players of the Atlanta Hawks’ rebuild?

The Atlanta Hawks had a bombastic offseason, drafting Onyeka Okongwu and signing a handful of studs in free agency. The moves put an emphatic exclamation point on the team’s rebuild, which in my eyes, began when they let Paul Millsap walk in 2017 free agency.

That means they had just three seasons of tanking, a very impressive turnaround. And while there were many (and I do mean many) losses over that time, fans still enjoyed watching the team and certainly not all the players were bad. Here we’ll be highlighting the five best players from that rebuilding period.

Honorable Mentions:

Alex Len – Len was a sturdy center who appeared in 117 games for Atlanta from 2018-2020, starting 40 of them. He had his downfalls offensively but was a solid low-post defender and was well-liked in the locker room.

Dennis Schröder – Schröder was put in an awful situation in 2017-18 with the team surrounding him with rookies and players no longer in the league. He played better than his numbers indicated and has gone on to show in Oklahoma City that he can be a very good player in the right system.

Taurean Prince – At one point, it looked like Prince wasn’t going to be the future face of the franchise. That was thanks to his sizzling finish to the 2017-18 season, which he, unfortunately, could not replicate.

# 5 – DeAndre’ Bembry

DeAndre’ Bembry was never the best player on the Hawks but he was a fixture of the rebuilding years and for that reason, I can’t leave him off the list. He was one of the few players to be on the team for all three years of the rebuild and at times, was the team’s best defender.

He had his best season in 2018-19 when he appeared in all 82 games and averaged 23.5 minutes per game off the bench. Signing with Toronto a few weeks back, Bembry’s tenure in Atlanta is over. And while the team won’t be retiring his jersey anytime soon, Hawks fans who sat through the rebuild will certainly remember the defensive-minded forward.

# 4 – Dewayne Dedmon

Dewayne Dedmon also appeared in all three seasons of the rebuild, albeit in a more usnual way. The journeyman center spent two years in Atlanta then signed with the Kings in the 2019 offseason. Realizing what they were missing, the team traded for him at the deadline.

You could make the case Dedmon was the team’s third-best player in 2018-19 (behind Trae Young and John Collins) when he averaged 7.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 38.2 percent from deep.

# 3 – Kent Bazemore

Kent Bazemore was (and still is) the definition of a fan favorite. A non-stop hustler with contagious energy, there’s a reason you still see people walking around Atlanta with a Bazemore jersey on.

He was the longest-tenured Hawk for quite a while and even though he’s moved on, the “Baze Gaze” will live forever in Atlanta Hawks’ lore.

# 2 – John Collins

John Collins’ rookie season was solid, don’t get me wrong, but few expected the leap forward he took as a sophomore. He was the best player on the team as Trae Young struggled to start his rookie season and Collins earned some serious All-Star consideration in 2018-19.

He likely would have competed for a spot on last year’s team as well if not for his 25-game suspension, as the high-flying forward played at an incredibly high level all season. He averaged 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game in 2019-20, looking like a bonafide star.

# 1 – Trae Young

The hardest part of a rebuild is finding a superstar and the Atlanta Hawks hit the jackpot with Trae Young. Already a top-20 player in the league after just two seasons, Young is an offensive dynamo.

He finished in the top-five for points and assists per game in 2019-20 and his rookie season wasn’t too shabby either, finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting.

Not many teams escape rebuilds with a player of his caliber and if the Hawks didn’t land a superstar like Young, there’s a chance their rebuild could be going on for a few more seasons.

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Who were your favorite Atlanta Hawks from the rebuild?