Peachtree Hoops is taking a look at past drafts from 1999-2010, with pick analysis, draft day stories, and anything else associated with what has historically been a day of broken dreams for the ATL.
Proceed with Caution.
Atlanta Hawks Draft: 1999
We start with the draft that netted the most first round picks in Atlanta Hawks history. Pete Babcock had accumulated four #1 picks for the draft heading into the 1999 offseason:
Pick #10: Acquired from the Golden State Warriors (their own pick) with Bimbo Coles and Duane Ferrell for Mookie Blaylock and the Hawks own first round pick (#21).
This was the beginning of the end for the Hawks' Mookie-Smitty-Mutombo alliance that got the Hawks into the playoffs, but ultimate couldn't get past the Bulls or Knicks. The trading of Blaylock in a draft that was top heavy in terms of point guards coming out meant that position was likely to be filled when the Hawks used the pick.
Pick #17: This pick came over as a result of the 1996 offseason trade with the Detroit Pistons that sent Grant Long and Stacey Augmon away. The pick originated in a 1994 trade between the Pistons and the Sacramento Kings that saw the Kings send their #1 to the Pistons for Olden Polynice.
Pick #20: Also a part of that PIstons deal, this pick was Detroit's own #1 pick.
Pick #27: Once again, the Pistons were involved here, having acquired yet another #1 in a deal, this time with the Portland Trail Blazers, who sent their 1999 pick to Detroit for Bonzi Wells. The Pistons then sent that pick (and Scot Pollard) to the Hawks for Christian Laettner.
LEADING UP TO THE DRAFT:
Speculation ran rampant about how the Hawks would rebuild with their picks. The #10 pick was to be used for a point, this was universally agreed upon, and though the Hawks picked tenth, and it was a point guard loaded draft, it was largely believed that the top three point guards (Maryland's Steve Francis, UCLA's Baron Davis, and Utah's Andre Miller) would be gone before the Hawks picked, leaving Jason Terry from Arizona and Duke's sophomore sensation William Avery.
The mock drafts proved out what the initial thoughts were coming into this draft---that if the Hawks were indeed going to pick a point guard, it would be between Terry and Avery, but those Mock Drafts were not unanimous on which the Hawks would pick.
Terry was a well decorated champion from Arizona in his sophomore year off the bench, watching as Miles Simon and Mike Bibby helped lead 'Zona to their national championship. Terry's contribution to that team was no small part, playing over 1000 minutes that season.
When he got his chance to start in senior year, he made a lot out of it, scoring over 21 points per game and garnering 5 1/2 assists per game as well, leading the Pac-10 in scoring, assists, and steals.
Duke made it to the National Championship game, losing to Richard Hamilton and UConn 77-74 and William Avery was a big reason why. Duke lost only twice all year, and Avery averaged over 31 minutes a game, racking up 15 points and 5 assist, trailing only Elton Brand and Trajan Langdon in scoring impact on the team that also featured Corey Maggette and Shane Battier.
It was fashionable to make the argument that the senior Terry was the safer pick, but that Avery, who was also born in Augusta, GA, was the pick with more upside.
Down the line in the draft, the Hawks were sure to pick size and the best players available to help with the rebuilding of a team that seemed slow-footed in the 1999 playoffs, getting swept in the second round by the Latrell Sprewell led Knicks.
I remember it well, the scene at the CNN Center, where the Hawks held their annual draft party. There was a lot of anticipation that the Hawks were going to have so many new faces to add to Mutombo and Smith, along with the other seasoned veterans on the team and potential free agents.
As the picks started to come off the board, there were some nerves that a team that wasn't expected to pick a point guard would, or that the Hawks would be stranded without any of the top 5 point guards, even at the #10 spot.
Elton Brand went first to Chicago, and then Francis and Davis came off the board 2nd and 3rd to Vancouver and Charlotte respectively. That left six long picks and then Atlanta and meant that any chance of Andre Miller, the more prototypical point guard than either Terry or Avery, slipping down to Atlanta was almost nil. Now it was all too hope for to get a point guard.
I was in the camp that wanted Terry, the more proven, polished player. There was a lot of talk about Avery being erratic, and his relative youth/inexperience made me nervous to trust this playoff team with. So I was holding my breath that only Miller would be taken before the Hawks name was called.
Lamar Odom went next to the Clippers, and then Indiana dealt Antonio Davis to Toronto to get the chance to grab high schooler Johnathan Bender, a pick that provided the first inkling of relief that the point guards would surely be there--but would Terry be gone?
Wally Szczerbiak and Richard Hamilton went next to Minnesota and Washington and hope began to creep in that maybe Miller would indeed slip. And then, poof, the Cleveland Cavaliers scooped up Miller with the very next pick.
While it was now assured that the Hawks, if they were indeed set on a point guard, would get either Terry or Avery, I still wanted JT. It seemed safe that he would be available, considering the Suns already had Jason Kidd manning the point, but there was talk that Phoenix could take the best player available, and that might be the local university player with the 1st Team All-American label in Terry.
Phoenix elected to take Shawn Marion and now the Hawks were on the clock.
Terry or Avery, Avery or Terry...or could there be another pick that hadn't been mentioned? For the two seasons he was at Georgia, Jumaine Jones was always a lottery pick in these mock drafts. Could he be a choice for the Hawks?
When the Hawks' pick was announced, it was indeed Jason Terry's name that was called. Success. Step 1 is complete--and there was much high-fiving and celebration after the pick.
But it wouldn't last.
The next picks came off the board: Langdon, Aleksandar Radojevic, and Corey Maggette. Finally, William Avery's name was called making picks 11, 12, and 14 all Duke selections.
As the next picks came, there was nervous anticipation on who the Hawks would pick. Jones' name was still out there--could the Hawks get what the crowd was murmuring would be the steal of the draft grabbing the Georgia star so late?
After Frederic Weis and Ron Artest were selected by the Knicks and Bulls, the Hawks were up again. Jones was still out there. The crowd could hardly hold back the excitement. Surely the Hawks would pluck Jones here, considering his star production right down the road and his relative value compared to mock drafts.
The time came. The name was called.
Cal Bowdler. Old Dominion.
The reaction was swift. Boos permeated the room mixed mixed with similar sounding "Who"s?
Bowdler was size, but preferred a face up game with a soft touch. He played all four years at ODU, finishing his senior season with a 14.7 point, 10 rebound a game campaign.
But no amount of production could pacify the fans who saw this pick as. Fair or not, it was another big white player being picked--painful for Hawks fans after having endured other drafts passing on more dynamic players to take, among others, Jon Koncak and Adam Keefe.
Still, there was hope. The Hawks had two more picks. Surely all could be forgiven if the Hawks could pull a couple of exciting picks out of the bottom of the round.
After Bowdler, James Posey and Quincy Lewis were selected. The Hawks were up again and still Jumaine Jones was still on the board.
And if one thought that maybe Jones was overrated by the mock drafting community, you could look at the inclusion of Jones in the NBA Draft "Green Room" as a point of reference that Jones was indeed believed to be a lottery pick.
And yet there Jones sat, looking confused and shocked that he was still on the board, and maybe even more so that the Hawks, his hometown team, had passed on him twice, once to take a relative unknown in Bowdler.
The Hawks pick came and the name was announced. But it was not Jones'.
Instead, it was Georgia Tech freshman standout Dion Glover, the 6'5 shooting guard that had burst on the scene in '97-'98 season, scoring 18 points and grabbing 5 rebounds a game as a freshman in the ACC. But Glover missed his entire sophomore year with a knee injury, and entered the draft anyway.
Then GM Pete Babock told me, "We believe that if Glover had come out after his freshman year, or if he would have come out after playing this season at Tech, he would have been a top 5 pick." Essentially, Babcock thought he had stolen Glover by taking him after an injured season.
The reaction among Hawks fans were mixed: They liked the daring in taking a high ceiling player who had upside, but both wondered about Glover's health and the fact that, for the third time, the Hawks had passed on Jumaine Jones.
There was yet one more pick. The Hawks had taken the surest thing at PG with the 10th pick, an unknown big with the 17th pick, and a risky upside pick with the 20th. What would they do with that 27th pick?
After Glover, some now very familiar names came off the board: Jeff Foster, who the Warriors used the Hawks' original pick on but traded him to Indiana, Kenny Thomas, Devean George, Andrei Kirilenko, and Tim James went, leading to the 26th pick in the draft. This was Indiana's pick and they used it to select the player that Golden State wanted in the deal for Foster. But that player, much to the delight of the Hawks fans, was not Jones, but rather Vonteego Cummings.
Surely now, with the last of their first round picks, the Hawks would pluck Jumaine Jones, the local standout that played both high school and college basketball in the state of Georgia, out of the Green Room and send the Hawks faithful sky high.
The name was announced. The pick was made. And Jumaine Jones was indeed selected. Hawks fans were ecstatic, swearing they had fleeced the NBA. Jones joined Glover, Bowdler, and Terry as the Hawks first round picks. It seemed a solid night for Hawks fans.
But there was a problem. The Hawks had previously agreed to trade the 27th pick to Philadelphia a few picks earlier. Pete Babcock winced as Jones continued to slide and worried what the reaction would be should the Hawks be forced to pick the local favorite---only to be told he wasn't staying.
But that's exactly what happened. Jones was picked then sent away for a 2000 draft pick--a pick that was packaged with the Hawks own pick little more than a month later to the Clippers for Lorenzen Wright.
The thrill, so present up until the trade announcement, was gone.
Cal Bowdler never made it as a Hawk. He had a fine touch on his shot, but was too slow in his footwork to do more than that, and couldn't be as efficient at rebounding as he was in college due to the same slow feet. Bowdler played out his rookie contact with the Hawks and then never played in the NBA again, playing three more years overseas.
Dion Glover played 4 1/2 seasons for the Hawks, playing at around replacement value for his duration. He was unceremoniously released in February 2004 and then hopped onto Toronto and then San Antonio. By the end of 2005, he was done in the NBA.
Jumaine Jones never seemed to recover from his draft day embarrassment. He played for 6 teams in 8 years and was done in the NBA after his Age 27 season, also never playing above replacement level ball.
For all the trumpeting of the (4) first round picks, the Hawks were able to do little to accelerate Pete Babcock's plan to rebuild the team while staying competitive.
Terry was never properly utilized, having had to play with taller, less efficient point guards like Emanuel Davis to offset their feelings that Terry was better off as a shooting guard, a la Allen Iverson, so they looked constantly for someone like Eric Snow to play with Jet.
Ironically, the player they could have played next to Terry they dealt a little more than a month later. Steve Smith was sent to Portland for Jim Jackson and Isaiah Rider. Smith was dealt due to his knees and that his contract was in its last year and Babcock, convinced by a strategy of getting something for players before they were too old to get something for them, sent Smith away---the tall, well handling guard that Terry might have been able to thrive next to.
Jackson played 1 1/2 seasons with the Hawks, and Rider infamously didn't make it through his first, earning his release.
Smith played (7) more seasons in the NBA.