Dominique’s Greatest Moments - 2

Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, as you may have heard. We here at cannot get enough of Nique, and are constantly scouring the internet for video of his days as the Human Highlight Film. On December 1st, the Hawks will be honoring Dominique as part of Hardwood Classic Nights, with the team wearing throwback uniforms representing the 1986 season.

To get ready for the festivities, is counting down the 21 greatest moments of Wilkins' career. Check back daily as we update the countdown every weekday leading up to the Dec. 1 match-up with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

April 12, 1986: Wilkins scores 34 points to clinch 1986 season scoring title.

Dominique won one scoring title in his career, averaging 30.3 point per game during the 1985-86 season. It was a very close race, as both Alex English of Denver and Adrian Dantley of Utah finished just a hair behind at 29.8.

The league lead came down to the very end, with Wilkins pouring in 57 in the penultimate game of the season (#14 on the countdown) to put some distance between him and his competitors. And, with both English and Dantley sitting out the last game of the season due to injury, Nique was able to play the final game without worrying about protecting his lead. Still, he had 25 by halftime of a 108-91 victory over Indiana, giving the Hawks a 50-32 record (at the time tied for best in franchise history).

It was one of two seasons in which Wilkins averaged over 30 points a game, as he averaged a career-high 30.7 in 1988. For his career, Wilkins averaged 24.8 ppg, 12th-best in NBA history.

Mike Fratello
Hawks coach from 1983-1990
"When I first came to the Hawks, right after Nique's rookie season, we sat down to talk about how we could improve the team. I asked Dominique what he thought he could do better, and he replied, 'Well, I can score more.' He had averaged something like 17 points a game his rookie year (17.5). So we broke it down into components.

I asked him who in the league could jump higher than he could, and he said, 'No one, coach.' So I said ok, well, if you work down low more, I bet you could get three more offensive rebounds per game. Now if you get three of those per game, how many do you think you could score on, and he, being very confident, replied he could score on all of them. I was a little more conservative, so I said, well, let's say you get four points more there.

Then we talked about his speed. I asked who in the league was quicker than he was, and he said, 'No one, coach.' So I said ok, well why don't we try to run more and get out on the fast break, and maybe by doing that we can get you another six points a game on lay-ups and dunks in transition.

Finally we talked about his free throw shooting. His first year he shot around 65% (68.2%), so we talked about improving that. I said, if you can get yourself up to around 80% from the line, along with playing more inside and probably getting fouled more, I bet you can get at least another four points a game there as well.

So, adding it all up, four points from offensive putbacks, six from layups off fastbreaks, and four from improved free-throw shooting, you can add about 14 points to your scoring average. You do that, and I guarantee you'll lead the league in scoring.

Amazingly, that's almost exactly what happened, and not only did he score more, but our team improved it's performance as well."