The Atlanta Hawks were ousted in the first round by the top-seeded Indiana Pacers. After a fascinating seven-round battle with the top seed, there have been arguments back and forth on whether it was a successful 2013-2014 campaign for the Atlanta Hawks; some say they had overachieved, some say they underachieved. Over the next couple weeks, we will break down the Hawks season and we will dish out grades for each of the Hawks players. Who played well, who was a disappointment, who will be back next year? We will dish out everything you want to hear about the Hawks past season, and what is to come ahead.
First, some quick requirements. We will only feature players that played in at least 10 games with the Hawks this season, so sorry Jeremy Tyler, James Nunnally, and Antawn Jamison; you were all part of the exciting journey in some capacity, but that is all the pub you will get in our season recaps.
Being evaluated today is “rookie” center Pero Antic.
Antic is the fifth player we have evaluated so far and three of the first five have now been foreign born players with a fourth previously playing overseas. Look for that trend to continue in the Hawks draft process and into the coming seasons. When the Hawks signed a 31-year-old free agent out of Macedonia, it sent a lot of people rushing to google trying to figure out who he is and why he was making his NBA debut at this point of his career. Antic played all over Europe and was a very effective player in his time over seas, but it took him until his age 31 season for the NBA to come calling, and it was the Atlanta Hawks offering a two-year deal.
In the team’s first 25 games, Antic received 11 “DNP-CP” (he did not play), and when he did play, his appearances were usually limited to brief stints on the court under 10 minutes, however Antic would become the benefactor of a whole plague of injuries that would curse the Atlanta Hawks, most notably to Al Horford. In the Hawks next game after the Horford injury, Antic would replace him in the starting lineup, and go on to start 25 more games during the regular season, and all seven of the Hawks post-seasom match ups.
Antic really does have a European feel to his game, as he likes to step away from the basket and shoot the long ball, a skill set that drove the Indiana Pacers bonkers during the playoffs. However, his value really will be define on how well he uses that skill. Antic shot 56-171 from three on the season (32.7%) and 123-294 from the field on the year (41.8%)
Shining Moment: You mean I have to just select one? Forget it, I am breaking the rules. In his first NBA start, Antic tossed in 16 points and seven rebounds against the Golden State Warriors. Antic also showed up big in two games against the leagues best; Antic scored a career high 18 points on 7-8 shooting in a 19-point victory over the Indiana Pacers and 17 points in a seven-point victory over the Heat. Antic would also throw in another 16 points in a second regular season win over the Pacers. On December 28th, Antic would miss his first six shots of the game vs the Bobcats, but he made a game tying three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to over time and the Hawks would go on to win 118-116
Letter Grade: B- : Antic surprised a lot of people with his ability to shoot the ball, and he had several important moments for the Hawks this season, but to be realistic, he probably needs to improve a bit on his shooting percentage if he has any desire of being a high volume shooter in the NBA. There were times in the offense where you would’ve preferred Kyle Korver or Paul Millsap shooting the three ball, but it stuck in Antic’s hands. In Antic’s 18 minutes per game, he averaged 4.2 rebounds per contest, which is a fairly decent ratio in his limited minutes. Antic doesn’t measure out great in the advanced defense metrics and you would look for him to improve going into year number two.
2014-2015 season outlook: Antic is on the books for 2014-2015 for just over a million dollars, which is probably a bargain at this point considering the production he provided, if the Hawks are able to stay healthy he could provide more of a spark in shorter minutes coming off the bench. The Hawks probably relied too much on the 31 year old rookie in his first year, and I think the Hawks will be ecstatic if Antic doesn’t receive close to the 26 starts he got this year, because that will mean they have a healthy Al Horford and Paul Millsap. It’s hard to say if Antic can improve, on the one side you would look at a 31 year old and pretty much know what you are going to get from them, but on the other side of the coin, Antic was still learning the NBA game, and its possible that his game experience in the NBA could translate to better decisions and better shot selection.