Then we broke down Top Hawks by Statistical Category which sorted through the advanced stats (and some traditional) to look at the top Hawks in each category.
Now we begin our trek through THHB Top 10 (and more) Hawks of the Decade--an superiorly imperfect, non-scientific rundown of who we thought were the top Hawks of the Aughts.
Today, we begin with those who didn't make the Top 10, but were notable in ways that warranted a Jason Terry Memorial Tip-of-the-Cap and an anecdote or two.
The One-Year "Wonders":
When Pete Babcock decided to rebuild, he did so by trying to infuse veteran talent to support the youth that he was drafting. Unfortunately, he often dealt the youth (in the form of draft picks) to grab onto a player on the back end of his prime or in other ways that the team never really worked. Other "wonders" were brought in via deals that sent expiring contracts out and talent in.
Jim Jackson and Isaiah Rider were brought in when Steve Smith was sent off to Portland to play out his contract. Early on the move looked great, as both Jackson and Rider were scoring and using a ton of plays in doing so. In fact, Jackson and Rider in '99-'00 had the highest teammate combined Usage % in the decade for the Hawks (53 percent). Of course, it didn't last as Rider flamed out famously towards the end of his only season in Atlanta and Jackson was sent packing early the next year to Cleveland for Brevin Knight.
Toni Kukoc and Theo Ratliff came over in a 2001 deal with PHL that sent Dikembe to Larry Brown's world. Ratliff missed almost his entire first year with the Hawks with a bad hip, but came back strong the next year to lead the league in blocks and blocks per game. Ratliff was sent packing in 2004 to Portland in the Rasheed Wallace deal. At the time of Ratliff's hip injury, folks thought it might be a Bo Jackson situation, but he bounced back the next season as noted and in 2004 led the league in games played with (85) and is still blocking shots in the L--now with the Spurs.
Kukoc made an impact immediately in the first (17) games as a Hawks---beginning a trend in which the Hawks would kick butt in April and consequently negatively impact their lottery chances. In the 2001-2002 season, however, Kukoc looked a very old (33) years old and suffered the worst of any of his NBA seasons to date.
Kukoc was dealt in the 2002 offseason to Milwaukee in order to bring in Glenn Robinson. Robinson played one unspectacular season with the Hawks (it was their ill fated "playoff guarantee" season) and then got shipped off to PHL in return for the insurance covered contract of Terrell Brandon.
When Robinson came on board, he famously boasted to THHB that he would have us wearing his jersey by mid-season rather than the JT version sported at the time. He offered to hook us up with some swag to help the deal. Being good company men, we said we would welcome it. Soon after his boasting, we noted in our RealGM space that Robinson had a peculiar tendency to lose the ball after his third dribble, something also noted by then-assistant coach Alex English. English told us that they were coaching Robinson to only dribble twice and then make a move. While Robinson never changed his approach with us or turned us aside when we asked questions, the offer of swag never came up again.
Antoine Walker came over when JT was sent out to Dallas and didn't even make it a full season with the Birds before he was traded at the deadline for a first round pick from the Celtics. Walker was a great quote and understood the game of basketball but needed a ton of volume (minutes and possessions) to get his stats to a "star" level and shot threes about as good as Josh Smith does while taking (5) a game.
And the 2006 pick the Hawks got for Walker? Well, it was sent to Phoenix in the Joe Johnson deal and was later sold back to Boston in time to make Rajon Rondo their selection.
Henderson's main value came prior to the decade and was more known for his contract in the aughts (he signed a 6 year, 45.5 million dollar deal prior to the 1999 season) than for what he did on the court. Henderson was an excellent offensive rebounder (4th in the decade for the Hawks in OREB%), but not much else. He was a below-the-rim player after injuries took away a season or two and the Hawks couldn't come close to unloading his deal until the last season, when he was traded with JT in the Walker deal.
Billy Knight brought Jackson in for a million dollars in 2003, which was odd in that Jackson was coming off a season with the San Antonio Spurs in which he played a key role (58 starts, 28 mpg) in winning a championship (foreshadowing his personality conflicts down the road?). Still, Jackson started (78) games for the Hawks in '03-'04 and showed he could be a major scorer in the league. Jackson's (42) points in April against WAS represents the 6th highest scoring Hawk game of the decade. Jackson famously stopped talking to the media during a long losing streak in which he felt he was misquoted (not by us) and intended to parlay his counting stats coming out party into an long term deal.
Jackson broke his media silence to us after the last game of the season, but not before making us wait (45) minutes after the game was over. He thanked us for our patience and vowed to answer any question we wanted to ask. From that interview, we learned that he was looking for a 6 year, 42 million dollar or so deal, which he would later get when the Hawks signed and traded him to IND for Al Harrington. It was a fitting end to a season where Jackson showed considerably different sides of his personality.
There were a number of Hawks who were memorable over the course of the decade for reasons other than their importance or production on the court. We list because we care:
- Ronald "RFM" Murray:
- Ira Newble:
- Tyronn Lue, Tony Delk, Kenny Anderson, Anthony Johnson, Emanual Davis, Brevin Knight, Bimbo Coles, Matt Maloney, Jacque Vaughn, Dan Dickau
- Dion Glover and DerMarr Johnson
- Chris Crawford
- Hanno Mottola and Cal Bowdler
Mottola was a role player for Lon Kruger, but his greatest contribution had nothing to do with himself, rather, his persona was the focal point of Atlanta's 790 the Zone personality Mike Bell's greatest bits on the air---"Cooking with Hanno". High comedy, especially the one where he invites Mookie Blaylock in for some hints on baking "brownies."
- Peja Drobnjak
- Lee Nailon
- Mikki Moore and Jon Barry
Ah, the lottery years.
Next: THHB Top 10 Hawks of the Decade (#10)