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Greatest of All-Time Atlanta Hawks Series #8: Doc Rivers


Welcome back to the GOAT Atlanta Hawks Series. Missed the previous entries? Check them out here:


#16: Jason Terry

#15: Walt Bellamy

#14: Tree Rollins


When Hawks fans talk about all-time Hawk point guards, our #8 GOAT is always part of that conversation.

The #8 Greatest of All-Time Atlanta Hawk, Glenn "Doc" Rivers!

Ok, think the Hawks haven't had hard times at the point guard position since the Hawks dumped Lenny Wilkens (as a player, not a coach) and moved the franchise to the ATL?

Consider this: Only two Hawks have played over 300 games in Atlanta and average more than a mere (6) assists per game.

Just two. And Doc is one of them.

In fact, Doc leads all Hawks in Total Assists and is second in assists per game over his time as a Hawk, and he ran point in one of the greatest eras in Atlanta history by leading the Hawks to (4) straight 50-win seasons, before team came crashing into the Bob Weiss era and ultimately being dealt to the Clippers for what ultimately became The Plastic Man, Stacey Augmon in 1991.

Rivers was a great find as a second round pick out of Marquette, the 31st pick overall in the 1983 Draft. In that draft class, nobody average more assists per game for their career and only two players managed more assists overall that Rivers (Derek Harper, Clyde Drexler). 

His importance to the team was illustrated in the Hawks sudden rise to relevance in the 1985-86 season, which Rivers started by breaking his right wrist.

According to Denberg in, "From Sweet Lou to Nique:

He missed the first 19 games of the season, and the team was struggling to 8-11 before meeting Portland Dec. 4, 1985. Rivers was activated that morning after two days of practice, insisting he was ready. And he was. In 33 minutes, he scored 16 points, dealt 10 assists, had a team record-equaling eight steals as the Hawks whipped Portland, 109-98.

The Hawks would win 42 of the last 62 games the rest of the way to start that four season run of (50) win seasons. 

Rivers' steals in that Portland game was no fluke either, as he is #2 on the steals per game list (2.1 per) and 3rd overall, despite playing (300) games fewer than the next man on the list, Dominique.

Rivers seems to be thought of by Hawks fans as the best pure point guard the franchise has had, likely due to his presence on those Dominique teams, his hard nosed style, and his pass first style of play.

Rivers best season may well have been the 1987-88 season, where Rivers averaged 15 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds per game while posting a 20.4 PER. The season, one of the 50 win variety, ended in a way that Rivers still recounts as "painful", the seven game series loss to Boston, in which Game 6 was lost in the Omni.

Rivers recounted to in 2008:

"We were, for sure in our minds, going to win that game. We really were. We thought we were the better team, and we were not, obviously. I’ve never watched that game in total. That was a painful game." 

For his 8-year Hawks career, Rivers posted the 7th most Win Shares, in addition to the assists and steals he pulled together. Doc also has the 9th best PER, at 18.0, and was remarkably productive despite, at times, sharing the point with Spud Webb. And Rivers' Assist Rate is 3rd overall as well.

So yes, while he has never come home to coach the team he started his career with, in fact, he took the Birds out with that 2007-2008 Celtics team in an contentious seven game series, we won't hold that against him. His underrated production and leadership over eight strong Hawks season makes Doc Rivers our #8 GOAT Hawk!