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Atlanta Hawks All-Time Team: Starting Lineup, Bench, And Coach

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Atlanta Hawks All-Time Team: Starting Lineup, Bench, And Coach

Out of the 75 seasons that the NBA has been an official organization, the Atlanta Hawks have been around for 74 of them. The Hawks were initially known as the Buffalo Bisons in 1947 as a part of the NBL. They were then known as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks for a short period, split between 3 states (Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa). They would settle on the Hawks nickname in 1952 when the franchise made a move to Milwaukee, where they would stay until 1955. They would spend the next 13 seasons in St.Louis until the team settled on Atlanta as its home since 1969.

The Hawks have only been able to take home one championship in their history but have made 4 appearances in the Finals. Many greats have donned the Hawks uniform and to create a full lineup out of such a historic franchise is certainly a challenge. Some names will be left off, but they do get their honorable mention. Pistol Pete Maravich spent the first 4 seasons of his career with the Hawks. Spud Webb is an icon in Atlanta with his incredible hops at such a small stature. Steve Smith spent 5 seasons with the team and made the only All-Star appearance of his career with them. The list goes on and on of legends who have called Atlanta home.

That is enough about the ones that didn’t make the cut, though. Here is the all-time starting lineup, full bench, and coach for the Atlanta Hawks:


Guard - Trae Young

Trae Young

Championships: 0

Career Stats (with Hawks): 25.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 9.1 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Career Achievements (with Hawks): 2x All-Star, 1x All-NBA Team Selection

It may seem premature to include a 4th-year point guard to start for such a storied franchise, but Trae Young has earned it already. Young has flourished in Atlanta’s system into one of the most offensively gifted point guards in the entire league. He has proved himself to be a legitimate on-court leader who Hawks players have no problem following into battle every time they lace them up. We all know about his explosive three-point shooting and ability to hit them from anywhere on the court at a scorching rate. He has also developed into one of the league’s premier playmakers, averaging 9.0 APG or more in the past three seasons.

The past two seasons have clearly been the best of Young’s tenure in a Hawks uniform. In 2021, Young led the Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals while embracing a villain role that has him the most hated man in major cities like New York and Philadelphia. On that run, he averaged 28.8 PPG and 9.5 APG in 16 contests. The 2021-22 season was his most complete as a player and earned him his first All-NBA Team selection. He averaged 28.4 PPG and 9.7 APG while shooting career-highs in three-point percentage and overall field goal percentage. He led the league in total assists as well. The season may have ended disappointingly with a first-round exit, but the future is bright in Atlanta behind Trae Young’s continuing growth.


Guard - Lou Hudson

Lou Hudson

Championships: 0

Career Stats (with Hawks): 22.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Career Achievements (with Hawks): 6x All-Star, 1x All-NBA Team Selection

Lou Hudson is one of the great all-around basketball players from the late 60s and early 70s. He had a smooth jump shot that fell from anywhere and birthed him the nickname “Sweet Lou”. He possessed solid fundamentals and was quite exceptional at one-on-one play as well. He moved well off the ball but nothing compared to his smooth and seemingly effortless game with the ball in his hands. He created space with his handles and finished at the rim with what can only be described as pure beauty.

Hudson hit his stride with the Hawks beginning in the 1969-70 season. He would earn his first All-Star appearance with 21.9 PPG and 6.6 RPG. In the following 5 seasons, Hudson would average at least 24.0 PPG and 5.0 RPG with 5 straight All-Star appearances. His best season came in 1970-71, when he averaged a career-high 26.8 PPG. For his career with the Hawks, Hudson currently ranks 3rd in field goals made, 3rd in total points, and 5th in points per game. Of all the great shooting guards in Hawks history, it is Hudson who has meant the most to the franchise.


Forward - Dominique Wilkins

Dominique Wilkins

Championships: 0

Career Stats (with Hawks): 26.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.7 BPG

Career Achievements (with Hawks): 9x All-Star, 7x All-NBA Team Selection

Dominique Wilkins is known most for his high-flying abilities, his duels with Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, and of course, his Dunk Contest appearances. However, Wilkins still gets underrated despite all the success he rendered in the 80s and 90s. The Hawks do not have the consistent 50-win season success they had without Wilkins’ ability to score the ball. He averaged 25.0 PPG or more for 10 consecutive seasons and in the 1985-86 season took home the scoring title with 30.3 PPG. Aside from Bird, Magic, and Jordan, nobody had a greater impact on the game of basketball in the 1980s than Dominique.

Perhaps the most impressive part of his decade-long 25.0 PPG scoring streak is what occurred in the 1991-92 season. Wilkins ruptured his Achilles tendon in a regular season game against the 76ers on January 28th, 1992. At the time, the injury was considered a career-ending one with little technology and information on recovery. How did Wilkins respond? He came back the next year to play 71 games and averaged 29.9 PPG and 6.8 RPG. The way he adapted his game after the injury was incredible, turning more into a shooter/passer than ever before while scoring at a high rate. For the Hawks' career leaders, Wilkins still ranks 1st in field goals made, 1st in PPG, 1st in total points, and 4th in total rebounds.


Forward - Bob Pettit

Bob Pettit

Championships: 1

Career Stats (with Hawks): 26.4 PPG, 16.2 RPG, 3.0 APG

Career Achievements (with Hawks): 2x MVP, 1x Rookie Of The Year, 11x All-Star, 4x All-Star Game MVP, 11x All-NBA Team Selection

Bob Pettit is one of the most accomplished players in NBA history, but because of the era in which he played, he doesn’t often get the respect he deserves. Bob Pettit was an offensive mastermind with three moves that he mastered. He had an 18-foot jumper that was automatic, especially since defenses left the big man open for it most of the time. He had a leaning fall-away jumper coming off of screens that was a thing of beauty, and he also had a very reliable turnaround in the post that nobody could stop. He was the greatest player of his time.

Pettit is the only member in the history of the Atlanta Hawks to lead his team to a championship. That championship becomes more impressive when you realize that Pettit took on Celtics legend Bill Russell in the NBA Finals and emerged victorious. He was the only man to ever take down Russell’s Celtics in the Finals. For the series, Pettit averaged 29.5 PPG and 17.0 RPG in the 6-game series victory. The real dagger was Game 6 when Pettit went crazy for 50 points and 19 rebounds to seal the championship for the Hawks. Pettit ranks 1st in free throws, total rebounds, and rebounds per game in Hawks history.


Center - Dikembe Mutombo

Dikembe Mutombo

Championships: 0

Career Stats (with Hawks): 11.9 PPG, 12.6 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.4 SPG, 3.2 BPG

Career Achievements (with Hawks): 2x Defensive Player Of The Year, 4x All-Star, 1x All-NBA Team Selection, 3x All-Defensive Team Selection

Dikembe Mutombo isn’t one of the most offensively gifted centers to play the game, but defensively, he is among all-time greats. He is one of those defensive centers that altered opposing game plans simply by his presence in the paint. His ability to block shots and wag his finger is legendary. Even if he didn’t get a piece of the ball, opponents driving to the hoop were often off the mark because of Mutombo altering their trajectory immensely. He took pride in his defensive capabilities and wanted to control the game with his ability to control the paint. He was able to do that for the most part.

In 1997 and 1998, Mutombo brought home back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards and his 3rd in 4 seasons. He was named an All-Star 4 out of 5 years with the team and led the league in rebounding once. He logged 2.9 BPG or more every season with the team and 3.0 BPG or more 3 times. He ranks 3rd all-time in Hawks history in blocks and 1st in BPG. He also ranks 2nd all-time on the NBA’s list for total blocks, and his time in Atlanta had a lot to do with it.


Bench


Guard - Lenny Wilkens

Lenny Wilkens

Championships: 0

Career Stats (with Hawks): 15.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 5.5 APG

Career Achievements (with Hawks): 5x All-Star

Lenny Wilkens is the best off-the-dribble creator in Hawks history. His game was as smooth as any other guard in the league in his era, and maybe even the smoothest. Wilkens was a floor general who pushed the pace and got to the rim at will when he wanted to. His court vision was other-worldly and especially showed whenever he was able to penetrate and get to the paint. He made it look easy by either going up himself for a bucket or finding the open man for an open shot. He had elite body control that made his finishing so unique and so efficient.

In his 8 seasons with the Hawks, Wilkens led them to the playoffs 7 times and finished 1st or 2nd in the division 6 times. In his rookie season, Wilkens and Bob Pettit led the Hawks to the NBA Finals but fell to the Celtics and Bill Russell in 5 games. Wilkens finished 2nd in the MVP voting in 1967-68 when he averaged 20.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 8.3 APG on 43.8% shooting. He led the Hawks to 56 wins and the No. 1 seed in the Western Division that season. Wilkens currently ranks 4th in assists in Hawks history.


Guard - Pete Maravich

Pete Maravich

Championships: 0

Career Stats (with Hawks): 24.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Career Achievements (with Hawks): 2x All-Star, 1x All-NBA Team Selection

Pete Maravich is widely known as one of the players we all wish was playing in today’s game. He was a wizard on the court and a highlight waiting to happen. He had elite ball-handling skills that helped with the dazzling assists and incredible court vision. You could call Maravich the pioneer of playmaking, taking the basic moves displayed by the game’s point guards and putting his own flashy spin on it.

In his 4 seasons with the Hawks, Maravich made 2 All-Star teams and was selected to one All-NBA Team. In his All-NBA Second Team selection season in 1973, Maravich averaged 26.1 PPG and 6.9 APG. It was also the first All-Star selection of his career. Maravich played on some very mediocre Hawks teams who made the playoffs 3 times but lost in the first round each time. Still, Maravich averaged 25.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG, and 5.4 APG in 17 playoff games with the team.


Guard - Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson

Championships: 0

Career Stats (with Hawks): 20.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Career Achievements (with Hawks): 6x All-Star, 1x All-NBA Team Selection

Joe Johnson terrorized the league with the Atlanta Hawks as one of the best iso scorers in the business. Joe Johnson became one of the NBA’s best offensive players during his time with the Hawks as a complete player who could score in bunches, pass, and rebound. He shot the ball with an efficiency that stood well above league average and dominated the game from the 10-16 foot area. He was an above-average passer for such a scoring threat, and especially from the shooting guard position.

During his 7 seasons with the Hawks, Johnson averaged over 18.0 PPG and 4.0 APG every season he was there. He peaked in the 2006-07 season when he averaged 25.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 4.4 APG. He earned the only All-NBA nod of his career in 2009-10 with the team when he averaged 21.4 PPG and 5.8 APG, which landed him on the Third Team. He led the Hawks to the playoffs 5 times in 7 years and managed to get them to the second round 3 times. If you are looking for a bucket late in the game, there is no better player with the ball in their hands for the Hawks than Joe Johnson.


Forward - Al Horford

Al Horford

Championships: 0

Career Stats (with Hawks): 14.3 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.7 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.2 BPG

Career Achievements (with Hawks): 4x All-Star, 1x All-NBA Team Selection

Al Horford is one of those guys who will do whatever it takes to win, especially during his time with the Atlanta Hawks. It didn’t matter if the team needed him to stuff the stat sheet or do all the little intangibles, Horford was willing to do it. He was the ideal team leader who led by example with his tough and physical play in an era that had seemed to have lost a step in that department. Horford lived for the big moment and much like the rest of his career, was willing to take whatever role necessary in clutch moments to help his team seal the win.

For most of his time with the Hawks, it was pretty much guaranteed that Horford was going to give you at least 15.0 PPG and 9.0 RPG. He averaged over 1.0 BPG his entire time with the Hawks and eclipsed 2.0 BPG in both 2013 and 2014. He was named to the All-NBA Third Team in 2010-11 when he averaged 15.3 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 1.5 BPG. It was the perfect example of him being able to do a little bit of everything on the court, which is what made him so valuable. Horford is the type of player that every team would kill to have on their roster.


Center - Zelmo Beaty

Zelmo Beaty

Championships: 0

Career Stats (with Hawks): 17.4 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 1.5 APG

Career Achievements (with Hawks): 2x All-Star

Zelmo Beaty is one of the most consistent offensive centers in Atlanta Hawks franchise history. He was a walking double-double waiting to happen as he averaged one in 6 of the 7 seasons with the Hawks. His offense and rebounding were more than solid, but his best attribute was his defense. He was not afraid to get rough and physical in the paint to throw off his opponents' rhythm. He absorbed all the tactics and strengths of Bob Pettit and Clyde Lovellette left behind for him.

As previously mentioned, Beaty was as physical as they come and it showed in the numbers. He led the league in personal fouls in the 1962-63 season and was thrown out of the most games in 1963-64. Beaty was able to take the Hawks to the postseason every season he was with them averaging 17.0 PPG and 11.0 RPG in 63 career playoff games. He was named an All-Star twice in 1966 and 1968 with seasons that eclipse the 20.0 PPG and 11.0 RPG mark.


Coach - Richie Guerin

Richie Guerin

Richie Guerin is the winningest coach in Atlanta Hawks history both in the regular season and postseason. He coached the Hawks for 8 seasons and took them to the playoffs all 8 years. Guerin accumulated 327 regular-season victories with the team and 26 playoff wins. He took home the NBA’s Coach of the Year Award in 1968 when he led the Hawks to a 56-26 record, which was good for the best record in the Western Division.


How Good Would The Atlanta Hawks' All-Time Lineup Be?

It’s hard to say exactly where the Hawks will land on our list of all-time lineups until we build all of them. However, we can decipher how well they would play together if we were able to see them perform together on the court. Offensively, they have an elite squad that checks off every box in a team offense. Shooting is handled by the likes of Trae Young, especially from three. Scoring from Dominique, Lou Hudson, and Pettit will be abundant as far as the starters go as well as Maravich and Johnson off the bench. Playmaking, rebounding, shot creation, and a fluid offense are what you will see from this Hawks lineup.

As for defense, the interior will be manned by Dikembe Mutombo and Bob Pettit. Shot blocking and disruption will be the glaring factor for teams trying to control the paint. Perimeter defense will be their biggest weakness, but it should be covered considering what the two men in the paint bring to the table. All in all, this Hawks team will be a middle-of-the-pack squad once all is said and done. Their biggest strength will be the ability to score the ball in bunches and work the ball around finding the best opportunities possible to do so. Stay tuned in a few weeks for another team’s all-time starting five, full bench, and coach. 

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