Atlanta Atlanta has the 6th pick.  Their Usenet GM is Jacob Henry who selects:

Olumide Oyedeji, PF, 6'9", Nigeria


After the 1998-1999 season, the Hawks under Team President Stan Kasten and GM Pete Babcock, traded Mookie Blaylock to Golden State for the 10th pick which became Jason Terry (a good trade for the Hawks).  Then they traded Steve Smith to Portland for J.R. Rider and Jim Jackson (a horrible trade for the Hawks).  The net result of such deals was to kill team chemistry and take a team that had made the second round of the playoffs and make it one of the worst teams in the league.  

The sad victim of the Hawks horrid year  was Lenny Wilkins, the NBA's winningest coach of all time.  Clearly Lenny was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Not being one to play young, inexperience players (like Terry), Wilkins tried to ride the veteran players to as many wins as he could.  This did not endear him to management who wanted him to play the younger players.  Still, it is hard to not place a good deal of blame on Kasten/Babcock.  While it is easy to understand their thinking that the Hawks were never going to become an upper echelon team with the slow plodding team that they had in 2000-1999, one will never understand trading for J.R. Rider!

The story of J.R. and the Hawks is a bizarre tale.  It was obvious from the start that Rider never wanted to be in Atlanta.  He was late for training camp, missed (or was late for) practices, missed a team flight.  He even accused Dikembe Mutombo of ratting on his Marijuana use.  End the end, Rider was released on March 17th.

The Hawks must clearly start rebuilding.  Trading Blaylock for Terry is probably a good place to start.  Trading aging Mutombo (something Atlanta has said that it will not do) would also be a good thing.   The simple fact is that Atlanta needs to get younger and more talented (like most NBA teams).  It will probably get worse before it get better.  Lon Kruger replaces Wilkens as coach.  The Hawks first choice was Michigan State coach Tom Izzo who turned them down.  Kruger has been successful at every place he has coached and is probably a good match for Atlanta.  Kruger has assembled an interesting coaching staff: former Pistons coach Alvin Gentry, former Pistons player Rick Mahon and Eric Musselman (son of the late Bill Musselman).

Draft History

1999: Jason Terry (10th), Cal Bowdler (17th), Dion Glover (20th)

1998: Roshown McLeod (20th)

1997: Ed Gray (22nd)

1996: Priest Lauderdale (28th) - Traded for rights to Efthimis Rentzias

1995: Alan Henderson (16th)

1994: No first round picks

1993: Doug Edwards (15th)

1992: Adam Keefe (10th)

1991: Stacey Augman (9th), Anthony Avent (15th)

As one can see, the last nine years have not brought much talent to the Hawks



Dikembe Mutombo - 7'2" (Signed until 2001 - 34 Years old)

Still a great defensive player and rebounder (14.1 rbg, 3.3 blks) but becoming even less of a factor on offense (11pts/game).  His leadership was also brought into question with the whole Rider mess with folks in the media saying that he did not do enough.  Frankly, I don't buy this.  Atlanta has said that they will not deal Mutombo unless they get a superstar in return.  Won't happen.  Toronto is said to be offering Doug Christy, Charles Oakley and Antonio Davis.  This would certainly give Atlanta more depth but does not really make them younger or quicker.  If this is the best offer, I would pass.

Backing up Mutombo is Lorenzen Wright.  Wright was supposed to be their big Free Agent that would become a star at Power Forward.  Wright put up big rebounding numbers for the Clippers but never seemed at ease with Atlanta (he is signed until 2006 at $42mil).  Given his contract, he is imposable to trade.  Atlanta is hoping that last year was a fluke and Wright will show up this year.


Alan Henderson - 6'9" (Signed until 2003 - 28 years old)

Alan Henderson played in 82 games last year.  That is significant since Henderson has a history of injuries.  Henderson is a workman like forward.  Decent stats, but nothing that jumps out at you declaring him to be in the elite of NBA Power Forwards.  A good solid player.

Backing up Henderson is Lorenzen Wright (see above), Cal Bowdler.  Bowdler was a rookie last year and did not show much. 


Roshown McLeod - 6'8" (Signed until 2002 - 24 years old)

Roshown McLeod was given the job out of camp and played fairly well until getting hurt.  Once back, he did not show the same flair averaging only 7.2 points a game.  Chris Crawford is the primary backup and he did not do much either (4.2 pts a game).  Jimmy Jackson also spent a lot of time there but is better suited for Shooting Guard. This is a prime area of need for the Hawks.


Jim Jackson - 6'6" (Signed until 2001 - 30 years old)

Jackson came over from the Blazers with J.R. Rider.  Rider was the starting SG until his release in March.  Jackson started at SF until that time and then moved over to SG.  Jackson had a solid but unspectacular year, averaging 16.1 pts but only shooting 41%.  Jackson is not really quick enough to guard most NBA Shooting Guards and is probably best served as a backup.  Dion Glover showed some promise at the end of the year to give the Hawks a little optimism.  Still, not a very polished player (really only playing one year of college ball), who is not a very good defender or ball handler.  He is also a very poor shooter (38%).  This is another area of need. 


Jason Terry - 6'2" (Signed until 2003 - 23 years old)

When Atlanta traded Mookie Blaylock for the 10th pick last year, Terry was the obvious choice.  Terry had a great Senior season at Arizona and went from unknown to lottery pick.  A solid defender who distributes the ball well (4.3 assists in 23 min/game).  Terry is not a great shooter (41%) and will need to improve there.  Backing up Terry was Bimbo Coles (the starter for most of the year).  Coles is a Free Agent who will probably not be resigned.


Atlanta's coaching staff is starting to solidify.  Lon Kruger has been a successful college coach but so was some of the others who tried to make the move.  I also wonder if being the "second choice" will also hurt Kruger.    His Assistants, as noted above are Alvin Gentry, Rich Mahorn and Eric Musselman.  Gentry and Mahorn have head coaching experience (Mahorn's was in the CBA).  Musselman was an assistant in Orlando.  All three have a solid NBA experience which should help Kruger as becomes familiar with both the NBA and it's players.

The front off is made up of Stan Kasten and Pete Babcock.  Both are well respected and have had professional success (Kasten's with the Atlanta Braves).  They helped get the funding for a new arena (although that did not seem to help attendance).  I know that I should say more good things about them but I just can't get past the J.R. Rider trade...


I'm just not convinced that Atlanta is a professional basketball town.  Even when the Hawks do well, they just don't seem to draw well.  This will make it very hard to attract top Free Agent talent.  Kasten was brought over to the Hawks from the Braves to help make them the success that the Braves have been.  So far, that has not come close to happening.


Olumide Oyedeji, PF, 6'9", Nigeria

I had my mind on a sf or pf in the draft. but the only small forward I liked was Darius Miles and after he was selected I quickly started looking at a power forward. Olumide Oyedji seemed like the perfect fit in the Atlanta Hawks system. He will be playing next to another African in Dikembe Mutumbo which Dikembe will teach him very quickly how to adjust to the NBA style of game. So my pick was quickly decided on, Olumide Oyedji would be the perfect fit here in Atlanta.

Olumide was born November 5th,1981 in Nigeria, Africa. At the age of 17 he started playing basketball professionally for the team Dynamo Moscow of the Russian Super league.  After only about 10 months there he went to play for the team DJK Wuzburg of Germany. While there he played briefly with a current NBA player Dirk Nowitzki. After about 2 months there he declared for the 1999 NBA Draft. He drew interest from the Mavericks but quickly took his name out of the draft after discovering he probably would not be a lottery pick. So he played another year of basketball for DJK Wuzburg. There be put up amazing number averaging about 12 points and 14 rebounds a game. He also played for the Nigerian team in the African Championships. He led his team to a 2nd place title and a shot at the Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

III. OTHERS CONSIDERED (and why considered)

Dermarr Johnson - Great overall player, a lanky shooter, the Hawks terribly needed a SF and this was probably who everybody thought I was going to take.

Mike Miller - Led the Florida Gators in scoring (about 14 a game). He is only a Sophomore and is already more experienced than some seniors. Could have been a top 5 pick if he had stayed in school another year.

Joel Pyzrbilla - Here was another surprise. But with all of the trade rumors going around about Mutumbo it would not have hurt to have grabbed a center. This kid is 7'2", averaged around 3.6 blocks a game and could put the ball in the basket. Compared to some as the next Shawn Bradley (not a good thing)

Jerome Moiso - This kid is good, he is about 6'10 and has a great feel for the game, staying in school another year would have helped.


Honestly I believe that the Hawks will go for a Small Forward. The word around here is Mike Miller but we will have to wait and see. They also might go for DerMarr Johnson, or if still available look for them to possibly snag up Darius Miles.


Atlanta has only one Free Agent of note this year, Bimbo Coles, who they don't expect to try to resign.  Because of this, they will be in need of a veteran PG to back up Terry.  Since Atlanta is over the Salary Cap and since most players are not clamoring to play in Atlanta, don't look for them to be active in the Major Free Agent market.  They need speed/quickness at Small Forward and Shooting Guard and will probably address that in the draft.  Working on improving the play of Terry, Glover and especially Wright would go a long way in bringing Atlanta back to some respectability.

Craig Simpson - Usenet Draft Commissioner
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