- Here’s a list of the best Atlanta Hawks’ draft picks in franchise history.
- Bob Pettit leads the list of players Atlanta selected through the draft.
- Other notable players include Pete Maravich and Al Horford.
The Atlanta Hawks joined the NBA in 1949 as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. After nine seasons in the league, the Eastern Conference team captured their first-ever title in 1957. A big part of this championship victory was the addition of players from the draft. Upon arrival, these young players instantly boosted the team’s NBA championship odds.
There were a handful of stars that Atlanta was able to draft, like Josh Smith, Jason Terry, Doc Rivers, Lenny Wilkens, and Paul Silas. However, three players significantly impacted and contributed to the franchise, making them part of the best Atlanta Hawks draft picks. See the three players below.
The best Atlanta Hawks draft pick of all time was Bob Pettit. He was selected as the second-overall pick in 1954 when the team was known as the Milwaukee Hawks. The 6-foot-9 power forward instantly made an impact by producing a double-double average of 20.4 points and 13.8 rebounds in his first year. This outstanding production earned Pettit the Rookie of the Year award in 1955.
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) February 21, 2022
“Big Blue” helped the Hawks reach the NBA Finals on four occasions and win the 1958 title by beating the Boston Celtics in six games. The former Louisiana State standout won the league MVP award twice in 1956 and 1959, which allowed him to represent the team in 11 NBA All-Star Games. Pettit played all of his seasons with the Hawks and amassed a career average of 26.4 points, 16.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists.
After the Bob Pettit era, Atlanta needed another star to continue their success in the league. Pettit’s successor came in 1970, when the team drafted Pete Maravich as the third-overall pick. Maravich was also a Louisiana State standout and became one of the team’s leading scorers by averaging 23.3 points per game with 3.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists in his first year in the league. Due to this high-scoring production, he was selected to the All-Rookie 1st team in 1971.
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) March 3, 2017
“Pistol Pete’s” unorthodox style of play not only electrified fans but effectively helped the team qualify for the playoffs three straight times from 1971 to 1973. Before being traded to the newly expanded Jazz team in 1974, Maravich became a two-time NBA All-Star in 1973 and 1974. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard finished his Hawks career with 24.3 points, 5.6 assists, and 4.2 rebounds in 302 games across four seasons.
During the early 2000s, Atlanta missed eight straight postseasons from 2000 to 2007, but everything changed when they drafted Al Horford as the third-overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. The 6-foot-9 center from the Dominican Republic became the team’s anchor inside the paint by providing steady numbers of 10.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in his rookie year.
RETWEET if you absolutely love Al Horford! pic.twitter.com/lvTL4ztkhf
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) May 14, 2015
Horford became an integral part of the roster that ended the franchise’s playoff drought in 2008 by clinching the eighth seed in the East. Since then, the former Florida star helped Atlanta reach the playoffs in every season he played for them, including a conference finals appearance in 2015. Before leaving the team in 2016 to sign with Boston, Horford produced an average of 14.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 578 games for the Hawks.