The Atlanta Hawks are currently starved for true playoff success, having won their last (and only) NBA championship in 1958. More recently they failed to achieve a single playoff berth between 2008 and 2017.
The franchise was founded in 1946, originally the Buffalo Bisons, becoming the Hawks in 1951 and moving to Atlanta in 1968. Despite the turmoil and struggles, the Hawks have won four Western Conference titles and five Division titles.
Here is a look at the ten best players to ever lace up for the Atlanta Hawks.
Dikembe Mutombo – the highly accomplished Mutombo played much of his prime with the Atlanta Hawks, but misses this list by a bit due to only playing 5 years with the franchise.
“Pistol” Pete Maravich – the passing virtuoso and 5 time NBA All-Star left an indelible mark on the franchise, but much like Mutombo, was with the team for only a few years.
10. Doc Rivers
Career stats with Hawks: 13.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 6.8 APG, 2.1 SPG (1983-1991)
A large point guard known for his defense; Doc played 8 seasons for the Hawks. Rivers’ best year as both a pro and a Hawk came in 1986-87 when he played every game and averaged a double-double for the entire season as the starting point guard.
9. Kevin Willis
Career stats with Hawks: 14.5 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.8 SPG (1984-1994)
Not counting the season he missed due to injury, Willis played 9 seasons for the Atlanta Hawks. As a Hawk he was a one-time All-Star and one-time member of the All-NBA Third Team. Willis was a valuable contributor to the Hawks alongside Dominique Wilkins, Spud Webb, and Doc Rivers.
Career stats with Hawks: 14.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 7.3 APG, 2.6 SPG (1992-1999)
Blaylock was an entertaining under-sized point guard whose best years were all played as an Atlanta Hawk. He is one of only five players in NBA history to lead the league in steals in consecutive years. Mookie also made four NBA All-Defensive Second Teams and two NBA All-Defensive First Teams.
7. Tree Rollins
Career stats with Hawks: 7.0 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.6 SPG (1977-1988)
Also known as “The Intimidator”, Tree Rollins was a defensive stalwart during his time with the Atlanta Hawks. He led the league in blocks in 1983 and made two NBA All-Defensive teams.
6. John Drew
Career stats with Hawks: 21.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.4 SPG (1974-1982)
John Drew is the classic example of the diamond in the rough find for a franchise. Not selected until the 7th pick of the 2nd round (25th overall), Drew went on to be an immediate impact player for the Hawks, even leading the league in offensive rebounding as a rookie.
5. Al Horford
Career stats with Hawks: 14.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.7 APG, 0.8 SPG (2007-2016)
Like many players on this list, Horford’s best years have been as a Hawk. Four of his five All-Star selections came while playing for the Atlanta Hawks. He even made the All-NBA Third Team in 2011.
4. Lou Hudson
Career stats with Hawks: 22.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.7 SPG (1966-1977)
Lou played all but his last two seasons with the St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks. As a four sport athlete in high school, Lou was quite the rare athletic figure for his day. He was a six time All-Star for the franchise and remains one of their greatest players to date.
3. Cliff Hagan
Career stats with Hawks: 18.0 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, N/A SPG (1956-1966)
Hagan was a key member of the St. Louis Hawks in 1958 when the franchise won their sole championship. He would be selected to five All-Star teams and two All-NBA Second Teams as a Hawk.
2. Dominique Wilkins
Career stats with Hawks: 26.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.4 SPG (1982-1993)
The Human Highlight Film needs no introduction to even casual NBA fans. The nine time NBA All-Star, and two time NBA Slam Dunk Contest Winner is hands down one of the best and most exciting players to ever don a Hawks uniform.
1. Bob Pettit
Career stats with Hawks: 27.0 PPG, 16.5 RPG, 3.0 APG, N/A SPG (2007-2016)
It is not possible to detail the history of the St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks without mentioning Bob Petit. The unquestionable franchise player of their lone championship, he played all but his rookie season for the franchise. The 6’9” Center/Power Forward was a two time NBA MVP, eleven time All-Star, four time NBA All-Star Game MVP, two time NBA scoring champion, NBA Rookie of the year, and one time NBA rebounding leader. His accomplishments were prolific and he remains a high point for franchise.
Clint is an avid fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, and contributed to various sports publications prior to his work with Upside Hoops.