How many Atlanta Hawks fans are tired of seeing Pero Antic walk onto the court? The 6’11” big man from Macedonia has been nothing but a big body that can take up space, while accomplishing virtually nothing on the court. However, Head Coach Mike Budenholzer has continued to back Pero’s play on the court and ensue that Pero will continue to play significant minutes throughout the rest of the season and into the playoffs. Budenholzer has shown himself to be a basketball genius in his short stint as the head coach of the Hawks. It’s hard to question Coach Bud, but frankly I have seen enough.
I can no longer stand watching Pero blunder up and down the court, looking out of place and like he’s a character out of Wrestlemania. On defense, he is awkward, slow, and is nowhere near athletic enough to play one on one. His rebounding numbers, which were not great last year, are down from 8.1 to 6.6 rebounds per 36 minutes of play. Antic may have been a good rebounder in Europe, but he is now getting dominated on the boards. The Hawks are 26th in rebounding this season, and Pero is a big reason why. However, the worst thing for an Atlanta Hawks fan to watch is Pero Antic on offense. Every time Pero hoists up one of those hideous looking three point shots everybody in Phillips Arena cringes as it clanks off something in the arena and back into play. And we thought watching Josh Smith shoot threes was awful. It has gotten to the point where teams just leave Pero wide open. The illusion that Pero spreads the floor is invalid at this point as teams are letting Pero shoot at will. It is dreadful and Budenholzer is fooling himself if he thinks that come playoff time things will change. If anything, things will get worse.
Last year, Antic was formidable. He started many games in absence of injured Al Horford and did a respectable job when nothing was really expected of him. He shot close to 33% from three and had a respectable rebounding rate. However, in the 2014 NBA Playoffs versus the Indiana Pacers, Antic was a mess. He tossed up a total of 42 shots and made 7 of them (16.7%). Of those 42 shots, 25 of them were from behind the arc. He made just 3 of them (12%). With the return of Al Horford for the 2014-2015 season, Budenholzer decided to stick with Antic as the back-up center. This year, Antic has continued to chuck up bricks and fool nobody with his dreadful shot fake. Yet, they still have come out publicly saying they have interest in bringing him back next season. Sure, his $1.25 million cap figure is attractive, but I do not understand Budenholzer’s love affair with Pero. If the Atlanta Hawks are going to make a real run at the NBA title this year they must find an alternative option who can rebound.
The Hawks have some legitimate options in replacing Antic for the playoffs. Currently, the Hawks have Elton Brand and Mike Muscala on their roster. Brand is a faded superstar in this league. At one point in his career, Brand could be counted on every night for 20 points and 10 rebounds. Brand is far from that type of player now, but it seems the Hawks could be keeping him fresh in order for him to be more effective when the playoffs come around. The Hawks also have a raw big man in Walter Tavares overseas that could be called over to help with the rebounding problem. Tavares has great instincts when it comes to rebounding and blocking shots, but could be a liability on offense. He is likely not ready to be brought over. The other option is for the Hawks to sign a free agent off the market. Some notable names include Javale McGee and Andray Blatche. Both of these guys have played significant roles on NBA teams in the past and could help improve the Hawks. However, McGee’s basketball IQ and Blatche’s reputation for being a selfish player will likely keep Atlanta away from these options.
With the likes of Pau Gasol, Jonas Valanciunas and Hassan Whiteside in the East, the Hawks cannot rely on Pero Antic to get boards come playoffs. What do you think Hawks fans?