Going back to the 2005 NBA Draft several experts brought up solid arguments that the Atlanta Hawks were in need of a point guard.
The experts were right and the Atlanta Hawks decided not to listen and went for the hype of small forward Marvin Williams after playing one year at the University of North Carolina.
It has been two years and his game still hasn’t developed as the team expected. I'm not saying that I think he is a bust, or that I think the Hawks should give up on him. This story isn't a knock on Marvin Williams; he still has upside and could still turn out to a star player in this league, but he also still has a lot to learn.
I felt then and now that both Chris Paul and Derron Williams were more prepared to make an immediate impact. Let’s play the "what if" game for a minute and look at a missed opportunity.
I can recall shaking my head in amazement when I heard David Stern say “with the No. 2 pick in the 2005 NBA Draft the Atlanta Hawks select Marvin Williams from the University of North Carolina."
That told me that the Hawks chose Williams who has “upside,” the all-important potential that often means more than current ability. The Hawks were and still are a young team with no leader to run the offense.
Let’s assume for a moment that the Hawks had a mulligan and chose Chris Paul, the point guard out of Wake Forest.
Drafting Chris Paul, who played his college ball in the ACC, to run the show in the city of Atlanta, would’ve solidified the backcourt that had already by fortified by the Hawks' acquisition of shooting guard Joe Johnson.
This would’ve given the team a starting five of Paul, Johnson, small forward Josh Smith, power forward Al Horford, center ZaZa Pachulia, along with backups with guard/small forward Josh Childress, guard Acie Law, guard Salim Stoudamire, forward Solomon Jones, forward Jeremy Richardson, and guard Mario West, on the bench.
Adding a veteran via trade could’ve made this young team very formidable. While, I like point guard Mike Bibby, and think he is a good player who is a solid upgrade at the position for the Hawks, the drafting of Paul would’ve also made signing Bibby unnecessary.
Having the Atlanta Hawks constructed in this fashion and after a few years of maturation, this team would’ve also made the playoffs this year as a much higher seed than number eight ranking they achieved in the Eastern Conference.
Even if they had only achieved an eighth seed with Paul running the show, this would have certainly meant a more competitive series against the Celtics, one that would have gone further than four games that it will likely go, and would’ve changed the 2008 NBA Playoffs.
Another way the 2005 NBA Draft could’ve changed the playoffs this year would have been if the New Orleans Hornets were still in the Eastern Conference. If this were the case, the Hornets would clearly be one of the top four teams in the East, though what seed they would have been is not entirely clear?
This is all speculation because this isn’t the decision the team made, and the Hawks have been making bad decisions for a while.
They’re a young team learning to play together and win in the NBA, and it is great to see them in the playoffs. But it was apparent even prior to the playoffs that they were overmatched against the Celtics.
This isn’t a knock against the Eastern Conference: it is merely a what if question or, better yet, explaining how one choice from the 2005 NBA Draft could’ve really effected the 2008 NBA Playoffs.