For all of those that were holding your breath until the Atlanta Hawks were an NBA team again, congratulations you are now allowed to breath. The Atlanta Hawks spent most of the decade as one of the laughing stalks of the NBA and were the puns of many jokes like that lame attempt of one by me. They couldn’t even sniff the playoffs for the first part of the decade and waited until the 2007-08 NBA season to make it to postseason play. Since making the playoffs in 2008, the Hawks decided they liked it there and went on to make it the next two seasons also. They have become a sleeper pick of many over the past couple seasons and can’t even be laughed at in the playoffs now. They have a talented young roster led by Joe Johnson, Al Horford and Josh Smith that makes all teams worried about match-up problems in the playoffs. Here are the best five Atlanta Hawks from 2001-2010. (Only accomplishments and stats while playing for the Atlanta Hawks from 2000-2010 were considered.)
1. Joe Johnson
There isn’t even a question as to who is the best Atlanta Hawk of the past decade. Johnson runs away with the title with the huge contributions he made in his five seasons with them. Johnson was named to four straight Eastern Conference All-Star teams, ranging from 2007-2010. During his five seasons with the Hawks his lowest output of points was in his first season with them, when he averaged 20.2 points per game. He has led the team in scoring in all five of his seasons with them and has added 5.5 assists per contest. He just signed a huge 6-year, $119 contract to stay with the Hawks and be their leader for at least the first half of the next decade.
2. Josh Smith
Josh Smith is one of the more exciting players in the NBA to watch play. His size and athleticism make him a versatile stat sheet stuffing beast. J-Smoove, as Hawks’ fans know him, has supplied the team with a decent amount of just about everything in his six seasons with them. From 2005-2010, he averaged 14.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.3 blocks per game. He has become the youngest player in NBA history to get to 1,000 career blocked shots.
3. Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Abdur-Rahim played for the Hawks from 2002-2004. He led the team in scoring two of those three seasons while dropping in a consistent 20 points a game during the three-year span. Abdur-Rahim led the team in rebounding in all three seasons, with his best rebounding season coming in 2004 with 9.3 boards per contest.
4. Jason Terry
Jason Terry played four seasons with the Hawks in the 2000’s. During those four seasons, he put up a consistent 17-19 points and five plus assists per game. He always brought a large amount of energy to the court and supplied the Hawks with a solid three-point shooter.
5. Al Horford
This two time NCAA Finals MVP has not disappointed in the early years of his NBA career. In 2008, he was named to the All-NBA Rookie Team for his efforts with 10.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. It only took him until his third season to make his first NBA All-Star team. It would be surprising to see that not be the first of many for him. He just barely missed averaging a double double for the Hawks last season, as he scored 14.2 points and pulled down 9.9 rebounds per contest.