The Atlanta Hawks, and fantasy basketball owners, got bad news on Friday when center Al Horford was diagnosed with a torn right pectoral that will likely sideline him for the rest of the season. Through 29 games this season Horford was averaging 18.6 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.5 blocked shots per game, so replacing his production is virtually impossible, but how does his injury impact the rest of the Hawks’ roster from a fantasy perspective?
Elton Brand made his first start of the season Saturday night against the Charlotte Bobcats, but he had just three points (1-for-4 from the floor) with four rebounds and two assists in 19 minutes of action. Pero Antic (three points, seven assists, four rebounds and three blocks over 22 minutes) and Gustavo Ayon (zero points and two rebounds in four minutes of action) did not fair well either, but Mike Scott had 18 points in 21 minutes off the bench as Hawks’ coach Mike Budenholzer used a smaller lineup at times.
Brand’s best days are clearly behind him, and he is averaging career-lows in minutes (11.3 before Saturday night), points (2.9) and rebounds (3.6) per game thus far this season. Antic and Ayon are off the fantasy radar indefinitely barring some sort of talent transplant, but Scott’s performance Saturday night should put him on the watch list in deep leagues for the moment.
Horford was averaging 14.5 field goal attempts per game prior to his injury, so there should be more shots to go around for Atlanta’s other prominent players. Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, Jeff Teague, Lou Williams and DeMarre Carroll are in line to benefit most from the potential for more opportunities offensively, and while Millsap, Teague and Korver are unlikely to be available in most leagues Williams and Carroll could be worth a speculative add in deeper leagues.
Barring something unforeseen in the news surrounding his diagnosis, fantasy owners that need the roster spot right away can probably cut Horford without risking too much. His potential replacements at center for Atlanta can be avoided for the most part, though if more playing time starts to equate to better production for Brand he could be worth adding at some point.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.