Pero Antic deserves to start every game for the rest of the season for the Atlanta Hawks after his performances after Al Horford went down with a season-ending injury. The 6-foot-11 Macedonian provides Atlanta with a big guy who can do it all on both ends of the floor. On offense, Antic gives Atlanta another outside scoring threat to go along with the sharp shooters the Hawks already have on their roster. He can not only score the basketball on offense, but one of Antic’s underrated abilities is that he can also distribute the ball and rack up the assists on any given night. Defensively, the Macedonian center fills an important need down low after the loss of Horford which is the ability to enforce his will down low and rebound the basketball. With the set of skills that Antic brings to the table I see no reason as to why he shouldn’t start the rest of the season, especially given his performances so far with Horford out.
Out of all the candidates to take over the starting spot, Antic has shown the most potential to fill the role. In the first game without Horford, Antic did not start, but he provided crucial minutes down the stretch for the Hawks. In the game against the Charlotte Bobcats, it was Antic who gave Atlanta a second chance to get the victory when he hit a heroic one-footed three-pointer to tie the game with 3.2 seconds in the fourth quarter. Those might have been his only three points of the game, but he also provided seven assists, three blocks and four rebounds off the bench for the Hawks to secure the overtime win. In his next two games, Antic still did not get the chance to start, however, it was becoming apparent that he would be the guy going forward to take the starting center spot. Coming off the bench in those two games, Antic recorded five points and five rebounds in limited minutes in each game.
Based off the three performances coach Mike Budenholzer witnessed, in the fourth game Budenholzer decided to give Antic the start against the Golden State Warriors. Antic stepped up big time and shined in his new role as the starting center. Despite the heart-breaking loss, the production he provided was a big reason as to why the Hawks should have won the game. He led the team in points with 16 going 6-for-9 from the field and grabbed seven rebounds in an impressive performance for his first start. After Antic’s game against the Warriors, I believe he has earned the right to be the starter for the Hawks going forward. Out of all the candidates to replace Horford, nobody stepped up like Antic did which is why he needs to be the everyday starter for the rest of the season.