When Gustavo Ayon went down in the preseason for the Atlanta Hawks with a shoulder injury that was set to keep him out for close to a month into the 2013-14 NBA regular season, it was a little bit of a bummer. Though Ayon wasn’t going to be a starter or the most integral piece to this Hawks team, he offered some pretty interesting flexibility to the Hawks with their frontcourt.
Not only has Ayon been underused and rather unheralded for the positive things he’s done on the floor over his short career, but he also has a knack for working well with other talented big men because of his great movement for a big man and his array of offensive skills. Pairing him with Al Horford at times with Paul Millsap resting seemed like a lineup that could cause some damage for certain stretches.
Ayon is now back from his injury and, though he has only played in eight games up to this point, he’s been solid in his limited workload. In 15.6 minutes per game, the big man from Mexico has averaged 4.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per game while shooting a solid 53.6 percent from the floor. However, it’s been the minutes when he’s been on the floor with Horford that have been incredibly fun to watch.
Horford and Ayon have seen 30 minutes on the floor together and it has been the most productive lineup Ayon has been a part of this season. In those 30 minutes, the lineup with Horford and Ayon is +15 and has an offensive rating of 102 points per 100 possessions while holding opponents to 80 points per 100 possessions. That’s fantastic work on both ends of the floor.
Though they didn’t get to work together in the preseason, it’s clear that Ayon and Horford have a natural rapport with one another on the floor that could only get better with more work. It’s obviously not a lineup you want to start or even finish games with, but it’s a lineup that can put in valuable and effective work in the middle of the game when both teams are dipping into their reserves, which is a huge weapon for Atlanta going forward.