The 5 Greatest Players in Atlanta Hawks History

It’s been wild for the Atlanta Hawks for over 50 years. A team that began in St. Louis, moved to Milwaukee, and ultimately found its home in the ATL has seen various memorable players come through town and create iconic moments in Georgia. From All-Stars leading fantastic playoff runs to overlooked starters who contributed significantly on under-the-radar teams, numerous brilliant athletes have created impressive careers with the Hawks since 1968.

In celebration of all these outstanding traits and talents, let us look back at some of the 5 greatest players ever to don an Atlanta Hawks jersey.

Bob Petit

Bob is a Hawks legend and one of the greatest players in franchise history. Petit spent 11 seasons with the Hawks in St. Louis and Milwaukee after being drafted by the team in 1954. He was an instant star, earning Rookie of the Year honours and eventually becoming a 10-time All-NBA First Team selection, 2-time MVP (1956 & 1959), NBA Champion (1958), 4x All-Star Game MVP, 2x Scoring Champion (1956 & 1959), and NBA Rebounding Leader (1956). 

His contributions to the team were so great that his jersey number 9 is retired by the Hawks, and he has been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Dominique Wilkins

Nicknamed “the Human Highlight Film,” Dominique Wilkins was among the most exciting players in the history of the NBA. Wilkins spent 12 seasons with the Hawks, playing from 1982 to 1994 and helping lead them to 8 playoff appearances. He was a 9-time All-Star, 2-time Slam Dunk Contest Champion (1985 & 1990), 1986 Scoring Champion, 4x All-NBA Second Team selection (1987, 1988, 1991 & 1993), and All-NBA Third Team selection (1989 & 1994). 

Wilkins is second all-time in scoring for the Hawks with 23,292 points and holds numerous franchise records – he is an absolute Atlanta Hawks legend.

Dikembe Mutombo

Dikembe Mutombo is one of the greatest defensive players in NBA history and was the anchor for the Hawks from 1996 to 2001. During that time, he posted incredible numbers – 11.9 points, 12.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.6 steals, and 3.8 blocks per game – while also winning 4 Defensive Player of the Year awards (1995, 1997, 1998 & 2001), 2 All-NBA Third Team selections (1998 & 2002), 8 All-Star appearances, as well as leading the league in blocks three times (1994-1996) and in rebounds twice (2000 & 2001). 

The Hawks retired his number 55 jersey in 2015 upon his induction into the Hall of Fame, making him an official Atlanta Hawks legend.

Cliff Hagan

Cliff Hagan was a Hawks original, playing his entire 10-year career with the team in St. Louis (1956-1965). He averaged 18.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game while also earning an NBA Championship (1958), 2 All-NBA Second Team selections (1958 & 1959), 5 All-Star appearances, and eventually Hall of Fame induction in 1978. His jersey number 6 is retired by the Hawks, cementing him as an all-time great for the franchise.

Lou Hudson

Lou Hudson spent 11 seasons (1966-1977) with the Hawks, putting up impressive numbers – 22.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.3 blocks per game – while also reaching 6 All-Star games and earning a spot on the All-Rookie First Team in 1967. Hudson’s jersey number 23 has been retired by the team to commemorate his incredible contributions to the Hawks over 11 seasons. Even today, he is remembered as one of the greatest players in Atlanta Hawks’ history.

The Bottom Line

Overall, it is clear that many fantastic players have made their mark on Atlanta’s beloved basketball franchise throughout its long and storied history from St. Louis to Milwaukee and then to Atlanta. It’s nearly impossible to pick just five from the many amazing legends that have graced the court, but these five players stand out as some of the most outstanding and impactful in Hawks’ history.