Sins from past drafts can haunt NBA franchises for years. The Hawks infamously passed on All-Star and Olympic team points guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams in the 2005 draft and they are still paying the price for that decision to this day.
Sure, the Hawks got a starter at small forward in Marvin Williams in that same draft. But they'll enter Thursday's draft with the same questions at point guard that were there four years ago.
Even with some of their recent draft blunders (Shelden Williams in 2006 comes to mind), the Hawks were able to make enough moves in free agency (Flip Murray and Mo Evans) and on the trade market (Mike Bibby) to make up for those mistakes.
Still, there's no disputing the importance of the draft.
Three of the Hawks' top five players (Josh Smith, Marvin Williams and Al Horford) were draft picks, and two (Williams and Horford) were top three lottery picks in their respective drafts.
So with the 2009 draft just days away, we take a look back and examine the Hawks' past four drafts for good measure --- the Hawks didn't have a pick in last year's draft:
First-round picks: Al Horford (No. 3 overall), Acie Law IV (No. 11)
Second-round picks: None
Hit and miss: Horford was an instant hit and is one of the league's top centers. Law has yet to find a permanent home in the Hawks' playing rotation and faces an uncertain future heading into his third pro season.
Analysis: Based on their pro production, Horford has proved to be more valuable than any player in his draft class other than Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, the Rookie of the Year and likely the first member of this class to make the All-Star team. Considered the most NBA-ready player in his draft class, Horford has lived up to that billing while other members of the class have yet to make the transition from college star to NBA starter. The Hawks had options with the 11th pick and opted for Law over Detroit's Rodney Stuckey, who was drafted at 15. The Pistons traded All-Star Chauncey Billups to Denver a week into the 2008-09 season and moved Stuckey into the starting lineup to replace him and still made the playoffs.
The verdict: Horford's a keeper and franchise cornerstone while the jury is still out on Law, whose future with the team will come into focus Thursday night if the Hawks opt for a point guard.
First-round pick: Shelden Williams (No. 5)
Second-round pick: Solomon Jones (No. 33)
Hit and miss: Williams was a reach at No. 5 ahead of Brandon Roy, Randy Foye and Rudy Gay, who went in succession after Williams. Jones turned out to be far more productive than anticipated.
Analysis: Arguably the most egregious draft mistake of the Billy Knight era, Williams didn't last two full seasons with the Hawks --- he was moved to Sacramento in the 2008 trade deadline package that landed Mike Bibby and has since been traded to Minnesota. The Hawks opted for a player that was labeled the "safe" pick. Roy became an All-Star and Gay a 20-point scorer. The Hawks also passed up, at key positions, Utah swingman Ronnie Brewer (14th pick) and Boston point guard Rajon Rondo (21).
The verdict: The Hawks' wealth of bodies at the forward positions allowed them to survive what could have been a potentially franchise-crippling draft night. Since Jones is a free agent this summer, the only thing remaining from this draft could be the memory of what might have been.
First-round pick: Marvin Williams (No. 2)
Second-round pick: Salim Stoudamire (No. 31)
Hit and miss: Williams is a three-year starter who has been solid with flashes of spectacular play throughout his four years in the league. Stoudamire finished the past season on Milwaukee's roster after parting ways with the Hawks last summer as a free agent.
Analysis: Williams was the Hawks' guy all along. Even after both Chris Paul and Deron Williams impressed during their workouts leading up to the draft, the Hawks remained focused on Marvin Williams. Viewed then as the best potential talent in the draft, Williams remains one of just 10 players in his 60-man draft class who is a full-time starter. The only problem is he's not Paul or the other Williams, both of whom fit much more pressing position needs for the Hawks at the time. Paul, Deron Williams, Indiana's Danny Granger (17th pick overall) and Golden State's Monta Ellis (40th) are the only other starters from that draft class who can claim better early results than Marvin Williams. Much like Law after him, Stoudamire never could claim a permanent spot in the playing rotation.
The verdict: Williams is a restricted free agent this summer and would appear to have a bright future with the Hawks at just 23. The same thing could have been said about Josh Childress and he's no longer on the roster.
First-round picks: Josh Childress (No. 6), Josh Smith (No. 17)
Second-round picks: Donta Smith (No. 35), Royal Ivey (No. 38), Viktor Sanikidze (No. 43).
Hit and miss: A teenage Smith moved into the lineup early in his rookie season and has been a fixture since. Childress eased into a sixth-man role and was one of the NBA's best on that job in his final two years with the Hawks .
Analysis: This was easily Billy Knight's most bountiful and productive draft with the Hawks . Three of the five players he drafted are NBA regulars, at least Childress was before he bolted for Greece last summer as a restricted free agent. Josh Smith is a franchise cornerstone and one of the league's most dynamic talents and shot blockers. And like Horford and Marvin Williams, he's just 23. Childress was a huge piece to the Hawks' first playoff team in nearly a decade but couldn't get a contract extension to his liking last summer and left for a sweeter deal with Greek power Olympiacos. He might not wear a Hawks uniform again. The Hawks exhausted all they could from second-round picks Ivey and Smith. Ivey started 89 games in three season with the Hawks .
The verdict: It remains to be seen if this draft class was the true turning point and part of the long-term solution or just a temporary relief for an organization. But so far, the roots of the Hawks' current renaissance reside here.