Atlanta Hawks NBA Draft Rewind: 2006

 

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.

Previous Rewinds: 1999200020012002200320042005


ATLANTA HAWKS DRAFT: 2006

For a Bird Watcher such as myself to say the this draft was the most perplexing and bizarre of all Hawks' drafts witnessed is saying something, folks.

This is a franchise that has drafted poorly at historical levels, being able to only claim Kevin Willis (1984), and Josh Smith (2004) to this point in the Atlanta Hawks history as good draft picks in the previous 22 seasons, and (4) if you go back as far at 1977 since you could add Doc Rivers ('83) and Tree Rollins ('77) to that list.

And not just bad drafts, historical stinkers. Marvin Williams is at least a serviceable player in the NBA. The same couldn't be said for some of the following Hawks first round blunders since 1992:

1992: Adam Keefe (10th pick)
1993: Douglas Edwards (15th pick)
1995: Alan Henderson (16th pick)
1996: Priest Lauderdale (28th pick)
1997: Ed Gray (22nd pick)
1998: Roshown McLeod (20th pick)

Only Henderson amounted to anything as a Hawk, and instantly was given a contract that negated any value he might have been giving the Hawks as a hard working player.

LEADING UP TO THE DRAFT:

The Hawks have taken swingmen in the previous three drafts (Boris Diaw, Josh Childress, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams) and the Hawks had traded one of them (Diaw) to get another, Joe Johnson.

The Hawks had needs in the frontcourt, with Zaza Pachulia being the only Hawk that resembled a starting quality big man. 

But there was a problem--in the 2006 draft, there were only three high lottery level bigs: Tyrus Thomas of LSU, LaMarcus Alrdridge of Texas, and international big man Andrea Bargnani....and they all were slated to go before the Hawks pick at #5.

The Hawks kept things quiet in terms of workouts for this draft, almost seeming inactive. Here was the workout list for the Hawks that year (from Hawks.com):

WHO: 
Monday, June 19 

8 a.m.: 
Solomon Jones (F, 6-10, 230, South Florida) 13.2 ppg, 9.8 rpg and 3.1 bpg ... Honorable Mention All-Big East
Mohammed Kone (C, 6-11, 235, Valparaiso) 10.9 ppg and 8.0 rpg ... Originally from Ivory Coast, attended HS in France

9:15 a.m. 
Randy Foye (G, 6-4, 210, Villanova) AP First Team All-America ... 20.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg and 3.0 apg last season
Rajon Rondo (G, 6-1, 171, Kentucky) Led SEC in assists (4.9), 2nd in steals (2.0) ... 11.2 ppg and team-high 6.1 rpg
Marcus Williams (G, 6-3, 205, Connecticut) Highest all-time assist avg. in school history (7.3) ... All-Big East Second Team

Friday, June 23
9 a.m. 
Patrick O'Bryant (C, 7-0, 260, Bradley) MVC Def. Player of the Year ... 13.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg and 2.9 bpg
Justin Williams (F, 6-10, 225, Wyoming) All-time blocks leader in MWC ... 2-time Conf. Player of the Year
Yemi Nicholson (C, 6-11, 260, Denver) Led Conf. in scoring (19.9), 2nd in blocks (2.8), 3rd in rebounding (10.9)    


A day for the second rounders, a day for the point guards in the draft, and a day for Partick O'Bryant, since the other two gents weren't drafted.

DRAFT NIGHT:

 

There was a considerable bad feeling in the pit of the collective Hawk fan as rumors swirled that the Hawks had promised Duke's Shelden Williams that they would take him with their pick.

Williams, a 4 year senior and nicknamed "the Landlord" due to his presence inside and on the glass, wasn't thought of as a high lottery pick at all and most thought that, if the Hawks were sold on Shelden for whatever reason, they would surely trade down to make it happen, as there were still plenty of players like UConn's Rudy Gay, Washington's Brandon Roy, and Villanova's Randy Foye sure to be available at #5.

Still, when the time came, and the picks rolled off, and the Hawks were at #5 with all those players plus Marcus Williams and Rajon Rondo, the two point guards they had scheduled workouts with, the name Shelden Williams was still called.

Fans howled. Other dropped their heads. There would be no savvy maneuvering to trade down, no picking the best available as Hawks GM Billy Knight had done just one draft earlier, it was Shelden Williams and that was that.

When quizzed about Shelden's lack of workout for the Hawks, Knight bristled. When asked why he went for need this year and not last year when he selected Marvin Williams, he evaded. SImply, he wanted Shelden and thought he could be the force up front the Hawks lacked.

There was word that the Hawks had tried to trade down with the Rockets, a trade which would have brought the Hawks Luther Head and Shelden Williams for Brandon Roy, but the Hawks were afraid someone would take Shelden before the Rockets at #8, so the deal was off.

AFTERMATH:

It was just as obvious as Marvin was awkward that Shelden didn't belong in any starting lineup. Playing below the rim, completely unacceptable for a power forward of his stature and draft position and not sufficiently quick enough to savvy enough to get position, Williams revealed himself to be a backup caliber player for even a lottery team like the Hawks.

His rookie year was his best so far in his NBA career, where he played the most minutes and had a rebounding rate for the Hawks that was tops on the team. But he fell off the very next season from even that modest perch and Knight cut his losses by packaging him up with a gaggle of other Hawks reserves in return for PG Mike Bibby.

SUMMARY:

The Hawks blew it again in this draft, missing on some fantastic talent and by not even seemingly investigating other avenues to get the guy they wanted. Billy Knight was sold on a single player, location and potential maneuvering of the system to benefit further be darned. 

If the Hawks were going to reach, certainly hindsight says they should have reached for Rondo, but 20 other teams missed that, too--his jump shot was considered balky and team were unsure about the young man's personality.

Shelden Williams, a nice guy by all accounts, but already hailed as an all time draft bust.

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