Atlanta Hawks Details
The Hawks play their home games in Atlanta’s Phillips Arena, which opened in 1999. Atlanta is the franchise’s fifth home. The Hawks played previously in Buffalo (as the Buffalo Bisons), Illinois (as the Tri-City Blackhawks), Milwaukee (where they took on the Hawks name), and St. Louis. The Hawks’ last championship came in 1958, during their time in St. Louis.
In the late 80s and early 90s, the Hawks were led by future Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins. Wilkins was known for his powerful dunking ability, and he formed a rivalry with Michael Jordan at the All Star Game’s Slam Dunk Contest. Wilkins won the event twice. With Wilkins, the Hawks were one of the top regular-season teams of the late 80s. Wilkins was instrumental leading the team to four consecutive seasons where they won at least 50 games. Wilkins is the Hawks’ all-time leading scorer, but he could not lead the team past the second round of the playoffs.
After the departure of Wilkins, The Hawks’ success in the 90s centered around shooting guard Steve Smith and 7 foot 2 center Dikembe Mutombo. The duo helped the Hawks to two seasons with 50 or more wins but still could not make it past the second round.
The Hawks finally made it past the second round in 2015 with a resurgent team led by four time All Star Paul Millsap. They would ultimately lose in the Conference Finals to LeBron James’ Cavaliers. The 2016-17 Hawks finished the regular season with a 43-39 record, earning them the East’s 5th seed, but they lost in the first round to the Washington Wizards.
The Hawks are in the midst of a major roster overhaul, and they will have to try to make their way back to the playoffs without Millsap, who left as a free agent and signed with the Nuggets. New GM Chris Schlenk wants his team to be competitive, so he’s likely relieved by the performance of his 2017 first rounder John Collins (17th overall), who has impressed fans in the NBA’s summer league.