Aloha! In the last installment of the player profile series for this year’s Atlanta Hawks, we took a look at “rookie” big man Pero Antic. This time, we’ll be examining his frontcourt counterpart, Gustavo Ayon.
First things first, Ayon has been diagnosed with inflammation in his shoulder area and a rotator cuff strain, and as a result, he’ll be missing in action for the next 4-to-8 weeks. Absent that, however, we’ll break down what we’ll be seeing when he returns.
He is your classic “energy” guy up front, and Ayon will become a fan favorite for those who enjoy the “scrappy” player. He’s a tremendous rebounder, especially for his relatively slight frame, and he’s great around the rim. In addition, I think we’ll see some high-quality high-low work from Ayon and Al Horford, as the Mexican big man is an adept passer.
There are clearly downsides for Ayon, however, and he’s a far below-average shooter. In fact (as ESPN’s Kevin Pelton pointed out in his Hawks projections), the 6-foot-10 big man shot a ridiculous 1-for-12 from the free throw line after joining the Bucks last season, and a paltry 12-for-36 from beyond 10 feet.
Positively, he’ll provide value on both ends of the court, and for a $1.5 million waiver claim, that’s pretty awesome. As long as he can avoid his jump shot (and the free throw line), everything else is a win.
Role on the Roster
Prior to the injury, I felt strongly that Ayon would, at least at the start of the season, be penciled in as the 4th big man behind Al Horford, Paul Millsap, and veteran Elton Brand. However, things are up in the air a bit with the injury, and as we discussed in Antic’s player profile, he could be poised to take those minutes.
Ayon is the superior defender, and likely, the superior rebounder (career 9.2 boards per 36 minutes), so that should qualify him for certain assignments regardless of his “usual” deployment. At worst, he’s the 5th big man who will be used in foul trouble/injury spots, and at best, he’ll be an every night contributor as the 4th big man playing 15 minutes (approximately) per night.
This is a tough one. I’ve always been a fan of Ayon, and I loved the acquisition, but the injury throws a big wrench into things. With a gun to my head, I’d still predict that he claims the more prominent role in comparison to Pero Antic, but my conviction on that has dwindled, and any emergence from Mike Scott could cut more into his potential court time.
Stay tuned for the next installment, and be sure to check out all of our Hawks coverage!