Atlanta Hawks 2012-13 Player Profile: C Johan Petro

By Colin Flosi

This is the third installment of your 2012-13 Atlanta Hawks player profiles, and we’re one-fifth of the way through the Hawks projected opening day roster (though we already lost Jordan Williams to a drowning death in the free agent pool). Up next we have Johan Petro the eight-year veteran (time flies when you’re mediocre, doesn’t it?) who came to the Hawks in the blockbuster deal that sent Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets in return for five guys to help Danny Ferry move his stuff into his new office.

Petro is a legitimate 7-footer (thanks in part to his elongated head) who played 51 games last season, filling in as a starter for 10 of them. He is known mostly for his defense and ability to take up space. His role was a little larger last season on a struggling Nets team than it normally would be, and a slight drop in minutes should be expected this season.

High Point Of The 2011-12 Season- Despite shooting only 41.9% from the field last season, Petro was an unbelievable 100% from three-point land. Sure that 100% was really only 1-of-1, but the fact that a man who has trouble making layups consistently was able to make his only three point attempt of the season is still reason for celebration. However, Petro’s three was not enough to lead the Nets to victory, as they lost that game to the Miami Heat in a nail-biter, 108-78.

Low Point Of The 2011-2012 Season- Petro had many games last season where it looked as though he was attempting to shoot a shot put ball rather than a basketball, but no game was worse than his April 3rd showing against the Los Angeles LakersIn that game, Petro logged 20 minutes and did not score a point, while shooting 0-8 from the field. To make it worse, four out of those eight misses were layups.

However, Petro did redeem himself with this play which catapulted him into consideration for the Defensive Player of the Year award. However, that consideration was quickly rescinded during the very next play after voters saw Petro’s vertical leap while attempting to block a Pau Gasol layup.

3 Reasons Why Hawks Fans Should Be Happy-

1. Both Zaza Pachulia and Petro wear the #27, and you have to believe that the number will be awarded to the better player of the two. This could work to the Hawks advantage, as Petro nipping at Zaza’s heels for his number may act as a motivation for Zaza this season. If nothing else, pit the two players against each other in a layup contest to decide the winner. In that situation, even if neither of them win (which seems most likely), at least the fans do!

2. The acquisition of Petro fills a huge offseason need for the Hawks: somebody to match Joel Anthony’s cranium size. In the past, as players such as Zaza and Josh Smith were forced to guard Anthony, the glare from his sweaty forehead incapacitated them and allowed Anthony to pick apart the defense. With Petro in town though the Hawks can match him up on Anthony, which enables the Hawks and Heat to effectively play 4-on-4 every time both players are in the game.

3. He might actually be the best Hawks third-string center in recent memory. While it is hard to gauge the contributions of Jason Collins, Erick Dampier, Randolph Morris, Solomon Jones, John Edwards, and Esteban Batista (mainly because they didn’t actually contribute anything), it will be a nice change of pace to have a third center who has recently started a few games somewhere else (sorry Dampier and Collins, that was a couple of years and 30 pounds ago).

Strengths- Petro moves reasonably well for a big man, and as a result he doesn’t get beaten to the hoop by too many opposing centers. He has annoying hands on defense which sometimes leads to lots of quick fouls, but can also result in him poking balls away. He may also be good for one three pointer a season.

Weaknesses- He has trouble when under the basket, and doesn’t rebound well for a seven-footer. He stands by himself a lot on offense, which could be good, but sometimes he still finds a way to get in the way of his own players.

2012-13 Season Outlook- While the Nets didn’t have much in terms of size after Brook Lopez went down with an injury, which allowed Petro to get a decent amount of minutes (15 a game), that won’t be the case in Atlanta. Even if the Hawks do decide to shift the starting lineup to allow Zaza to start at center, the bulk of the minutes at the position will still go to Zaza and Al Horford. In games where Zaza is ineffective on defense or finds himself in foul trouble, Petro may be leaned on to play quality minutes however.

2012-13 Projected Role- Petro will be the typical third-string center who will be called upon to play smart defense and stay out of the way on offense. He may find himself in the middle of intense one-on-one battles against Jason Collins at certain points during the season however, as Collins attempts to show the Hawks that they made a mistake by not re-signing him.

2012-13 Projected Stats- Petro will most likely see a slight drop from last season’s numbers, though the ability to avoid playing against starting units may help to increase his field goal percentage.
Stay on the lookout for the rest of the 2012-13 Atlanta Hawks player profiles, as I will continue to go down the depth chart one by one until every player has been profiled. Below is my projected depth chart, though what the Hawks decide to do is anyone’s guess currently.

PG- Jeff Teague / Devin Harris
SG- Anthony Morrow / Louis Williams / John Jenkins
SF-  Josh Smith / Kyle Korver / DeShawn Stevenson
PF- Al Horford / Ivan Johnson / Mike Scott
C- Zaza Pachulia / Johan Petro Jordan Williams (Waived)

Up next is Mike Scott.

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