Greetings! As we get closer to tip-off, we’re continuing with our 2013-2014 player profile series. In case you missed our preview installments, check out our most recent look, when we examined the work of shooting guard John Jenkins. Now, we glance at what the team’s “veteran” presence looks like in the form of Elton Brand.
You may be sensing a theme of how I feel about this team (see Mike Scott and DeMarre Carroll) when I say this, but I absolutely love Elton Brand. In the off-season, the Hawks nabbed Brand as a free-agent (he was amnestied by the Sixers and played in Dallas last season) for the very reasonable sum of $4 million for 1 year, and it was a move that I wholeheartedly endorsed.
Last season, the 34-year-old Brand appeared in 72 games for the Mavs, averaging 12.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per 36 minutes. At this stage, he’s certainly not the 20/10 stud that he was in Chicago and Los Angeles, but Brand is an extremely solid role player who defends very well, rebounds with frightening consistency, and can score a bit as well. The Hawks may have the best collection of jump-shooting bigs in the league, as Brand’s mid-range talent is strong along with Horford and Millsap (who we will get to in the coming days).
Brand is listed at 6-foot-9 (I have my doubts), but still has averaged 1.9 blocks per 36 minutes in his career, and his defensive acumen is outstanding. That is especially evident in his post defense, and he’ll be looked upon to help Horford deal with the league’s elite big men. As you can see by the numbers, Brand’s scoring dipped last season (12.2 pts per 36 minutes versus 17.8 in his career), but that’s not what Atlanta needs from him, anyway.
If there is a weakness with Brand, it is the stated lack of height and a dwindling amount of athleticism. He was always a low-to-the-ground player (even when he was a star), but he’s taken that to a new level in his advancing age, and the fact that he’ll appear at center (a lot) at his size is a bit troubling.
Role on the Roster
For me, Brand is the unquestioned “3rd big” on this roster. Behind Horford and Millsap, he is certainly the guy I would want to see the most minutes from (he played 21.2 per game last season in Dallas), and I think Mike Budenholzer agrees. A Horford/Brand frontcourt would be outstanding defensively, and while it may be tough to play Brand and Millsap together at the 4/5 spots due to size concerns, he’s versatile enough to execute.
Keeping Brand on the court could be crucial in the early-going, as his main “competition” for minutes, Gustavo Ayon, is currently on the shelf with a shoulder injury. Brand will appear in every game that he is healthy for, and he’s a crucial member of this year’s team.
I think Brand will be a similar (if not better) player this season than he was in Dallas last year. In Atlanta, he has a defined role, and that should help his comfort level a bit. If I were to project a stat line, I would say he averages between 20 and 25 minutes per game, with 8-10 points per contest and 6-7 rebounds. That is more than enough to justify his playing time (along with solid defense), and I’m looking forward to the Elton Brand era.
Stay tuned for the next installment, and be sure to check out all of our Hawks coverage!