The expectations were low at the start of the season for Johan. Many thought he was a candidate for a buyout like a couple of other guys in the Joe Johnson trade. In the preseason getting to know him piece I made the observation that Johan’s shot selection was possibly worse than Josh Smith’s and that’s from a 7 footer. For most, he was seen as the latest holder of the role previous held by Jason Collins and Randolph Morris. Expectations rose for Petro as the year progressed primarily when Zaza went down with injury after 52 games. For Petro to be considered a success he’d need to fill a bigger role than token big at the end of the bench.
Johan’s performance was mixed. He only played in 31 games and only averaged 11 minutes in those. That’s what we’ve seen in the past from Jason Collins and Randolph Morris. His eFG% of 44.1% is pretty sad for a 7 footer, but his rebounding rate was actually good. In that sense Johan played down to the low expectations for him. When Zaza went down he was never really given a chance to step up, but I doubt he did anything in practice to show he was ready for it. Then the post-season came and was the case with Jason Collins in past, Larry Drew turned to Johan to start at C. He actually managed almost 17 minutes a game and was largely effective shooting 51.9% from the field. More importantly it gave better matchups for Al and Josh like Jason did in the past. The Hawks split the games that Johan started. I’d call Johan’s playoff run a minor success, but his overall stint can’t really be considered a success when his role was so limited in spite of injuries at the position.
It was Game 3 of the playoff series against Indiana. It was a specific play but rather just being in the lineup. After spotting the Pacers two uncompetitive games in Indiana, we were going to finally put our best defender (Josh Smith) on Paul George and although the score was 9-9 when Ivan Johnson replaced Petro on the floor you could feel that the tone had changed in the series. It didn’t work out in the Hawks favor in the series, but the big lineup restored hope where all had seemed lost. I will always wonder how things may have been different if the Hawks had landed a starting center years earlier and abandoned the Marvin Williams lost cause. At least Danny Ferry moved on from Marvin quickly so I should focus on the future as well.
I see some tall guys in the future for the Hawks, but I don’t see Petro as one of them. He still has a tendency to play smaller than he is with poor offensive choices. On defense his best season in blocks per 36 minutes was substantially worse than the worst season Josh Smith ever had in that category, which means he's not the rim protecting 7 footer we long for. The Hawks need bigs to anchor the defense and Johan doesn’t fit that bill.