Atlanta Hawks don’t need a big man with Al Horford down

atlanta hawksSince Al Horford went down for the season with a torn pectoral muscle on December 26, the Atlanta Hawks have gone 4-5 including a three game losing streak to kick off 2014.

The Hawks losses came to a few quality opponents like Golden State and the Memphis Grizzlies. Without Horford, the Hawks have still won games over great opponents like Houston and Indiana.

With Horford down, a few concerns were how the Hawks would replace not just his offensive production, but also his defensive presence. Many fans screamed for an Omer Asik trade with the Rockets or with any team for a true center.

The problem is bringing in a high production center will cost the Hawks. The Rockets wanted Paul Millsap for Omer Asik and other teams could demand a pivotal piece of the Hawks future in a player like Dennis Schoeder. The improvement short term isn’t worth the potential we lose for the future.

The answer for the Hawks comes from within. Coach Budenholzer has found the answer in Pero Antic and Elton Brand.

Since Horford’s injury, Antic and Brand have both stepped up and play big productive minutes. In Atlanta’s 118-116 OT win over Charlotte, Antic hit a buzzer beating, one-legged three to tie the game and force OT.  As a result to Horford’s injury, Antic’s minutes increased from 10.5 to 22.7. Antic also spreads the floor similarly to Horford because they are both productive shooters, especially for big men. Antic has shot 41.7% from three since his minutes increased.

Brand has also seen an increase in minutes, jumping from 11.7 to 19.4 per game. Brand has been efficient shooting 52.9% from the field. Even at his old age, the former 1st overall pick has proved he can still play some defense. He was huge in Atlanta’s wins over the Pacers and the Rockets. He frustrated Dwight Howard and Indiana’s Roy Hibbert on the offensive and defensive ends.

One disappointment for the Hawks has been Gustavo Ayon, the former Mexican league star who was brought in earlier this season. Early in the season, Ayon lost his spot in the rotation and didn’t see many minutes. Since Horford’s injury, Ayon has played a total of 30 minutes while not scoring a single point. Overall Ayon has been a no show and will quickly see his role even further diminished with the flourishing of Hawks second year PF Mike Scott.

Obviously replacing an 18 PPG and 8.6 rebounds per game guy isn’t easy, but the Hawks shouldn’t consider throwing away pieces for the future when they have internal options. The facts are the Hawks, while being a rebuilding but very polished club, don’t stand a legitament chance against the East’s elite in Indiana and Miami in a seven game playoff series.

The Hawks future is bright, so why risk throwing it away for a slightly better playoff series and an annual first or second round playoff elimination?

  • PDSBBALL | Ken P.

    Don’t understand why we are not taking a low-risk, possible high reward chance on Bynum. Sure there may be locker room issues, but he prove this season that he’s relatively healthy and can produce double-doubles when focused on playing. Keep in mind, that Coach Bud is proving to be a very strong minded, mentally tough coach who has a system to keep his team just as tough mentally. I think it’s worth a look/workout without a doubt. He also lived or lives in Atlanta, so it’s not like he has no other ties outside of basketball either.

    — 1. It wouldn’t cost us a player or a pick AND the asking price is extremely for a starting Center at worse

    — 2. He is a former ALLSTAR, Top3 Center when healthy

    — 3. Imagine when Horford would return next season IF Bynum panned out!!! Milsap would be extremely valuable as trade piece or (if he couldn’t hold us down at SF) he would join Lou Williams + Schroeder/Mack off the bench with Pero + Scott/Brand = that would be a tremendous beast of a bench.

    SERIOUSLY, WHY NOT???

    • Brian Garcia

      I completely agree with your point.

      IF Bynum was willing to sign for just the remainder of this season, I would go for it. If he has problems, then we get rid of him (no cap hurt, no players or picks lost). Most of the Hawks bench players are on short contracts, many ending this season and if Bynum ruined team chemistry, it wouldn’t matter because our bench will have a new look next year as well.

      As for the upside, its obvious like you said. We would get a star. A valuable piece moving forward.

      IMO, i personally don’t think Bynum will work, he has poor work ethic and doesn’t seem to care. I think coach Bud’s system doesn’t fit with centers as nonathletic as Bynum is.

      Overall probably wont happen, but i don’t see the harm in trying.