The Atlanta Hawks started as the Buffalo Bisons in 1946 as part of the National Basketball League. They became the Tri-Cities Blackhawks after moving to Moline, Illinois the same year. The franchise joined the NBA in 1949 before becoming the Milwaukee Hawks in 1951.
After four years in Milwaukee, the Hawks moved to St. Louis wherein they won their first and only NBA championship in 1958. The Hawks made their debut in Atlanta in 1968 and they have been there ever since. The team has experienced ups and downs since then including a 48-year drought of not making it past the second round of the playoffs.
Throughout their history, the Hawks have produced a lot of good players and a handful of great players. They have a total of 18 players who are in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. So now, let’s take a look at the all-time starting five for the Atlanta Hawks.
Guard – Joe Johnson
A certified Hawks legend, Joe Johnson was acquired via sign-and-trade in 2005 that sent Boris Diaw and future draft picks that became Rajon Rondo and Robin Lopez to Phoenix. He helped end an eight-year playoff drought for Hawks in 2008, losing in seven games to the would-be champions Boston Celtics.
The Hawks made the playoffs four straight times with Johnson as the leader. He was also an All-Star six times during his stint in Atlanta. He even made the All-NBA Third Team in 2010. Ranking sixth in scoring, sixth in assists, and second in three-pointers made, Johnson’s No. 2 will surely be in the rafters once he retires.
Honorable Mention: Guard – Steve Smith
An NBA journeyman who played for six teams during his 14-year career, Steve Smith was in Atlanta from 1994 to 1999. He enjoyed the best years of his career with the Hawks being named to his only All-Star game in 1998. The Hawks made the playoffs every season during Smith’s time with the team.