5 Atlanta Hawks’ Players Who Must Produce After Al Horford’s Injury
5 Atlanta Hawks Who Must Produce After Horford's Injury
In the NBA, injuries occur all the time. In fact, just yesterday the NBA lost two big-time players in Russell Westbrook and Al Horford for quite some time. Injuries are a sad part of the game, but in the NBA, front offices know that during a season, it is almost impossible to go unscathed and not have at least one injury. Due to this fact, GMs make sure in the offseason to get some of the best talent possible to fill their bench because these players all become vital pieces to success down the road.
For the Atlanta Hawks, GM Danny Ferry completely changed the Hawks' roster from a year ago. Ferry brought in a number of international players and veterans during the offseason in order to fill the roster. Now these players will be asked to fill the void left by the injury to Atlanta’s star center Al Horford. His torn right pectoral sidelines Horford for an extended period of time as he may not be able to rejoin the Hawks until possibly the NBA Playoffs.
One player will not be able to just step in and replace the production of Horford. Before the injury, Horford averaged 18.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, leading the Hawks in both categories. That kind of production cannot just be replaced, but there are ways to coup with the loss of Horford. Atlanta needs everyone to collectively contribute in order for the Hawks to succeed going forward. This means the starters have to slightly pick up their production in every single game, and the bench as a group must elevate their games to fill the void left by Horford’s injury.
The last time Horford got hurt, Atlanta had Zaza Pachulia step in and give big minutes, but he’s not here anymore. Who will step up this time around for the Hawks? Check out my list of the top five players who must produce for Atlanta after the loss of Horford.
5. Lou Williams
If someone on this team can step up and replace the scoring of Horford, it's Lou Williams. He gives the Hawks a legitimate sixth man who can come off the bench to provide a spark on offense. His scoring will be needed even more after the loss of Horford if the Hawks want to make the playoffs. Since returning from an injury himself, Williams has already shown the ability to produce big games offensively, but now is the time for Williams to be more consistent every game.
4. Mike Scott
Mike Scott's playing time should increase drastically after the loss of Horford and I believe he may surprise some people. Scott in limited minuted this season is averaging 6.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game for the Hawks. Those numbers are already solid for a bench player, but now due to the injury to Horford, he'll be given the chance to prove to coach Mike Budenholzer why he needs even more minutes. His ability to score from the outside and rebounding gives the Hawks a chance to still be successful without Horford.
3. Pero Antic
The Macedonian, Pero Antic, has a great opportunity to shine with the Hawks in his new increased role. Antic gives Atlanta a big man who can come off the bench and produce at a high level. Much like other international players, Antic can do it all. He has the ability to knock down the long three-pointer. He can enforce his will down low and be a rebounding machine, but to top it all off, he's actually a pretty good passer for a big man too. Look for Antic to give the Hawks big minutes the rest of the way this season.
2. Gustavo Ayon
Gustavo Ayoncame to Atlanta this offseason to provide the Hawks with a big guy off the bench who can go down low and rebound with the best of them. Now, Ayon will be expected to give the Hawks a lot more minutes in order to replace the loss of Horford. I wouldn't be surprised if he got a few starts as the the season goes on. Atlanta needs Ayon to step his game up in order for the Hawks to achieve victory. He'll be expected to come in right away and become a force on the glass because of his size. Ayon needs to be the guy to step up and make up for loss of Horford's rebounding.
1. Elton Brand
The veteran Elton Brand will need to produce at a high level if the Hawks want to be successful without Horford. Out of the other four on this list, he by far has the most experience as a starter in the NBA. Tonight, Brand will be given the first chance to start in place of Horford. Brand needs to step in and provide Atlanta with productive minutes on both the offensive and defensive end of the court. Defensively, he needs to continue being the shot-blocker and rebounder he's been all season. However, on offense, Brand must improve his production. So far this season, he is only averaging 2.9 points per game which will not be enough to overcome the injury to Horford. That number has to go up if Atlanta wants to win games and make the playoffs.