By some accounts Anthony Tolliver was the last Hawk to make the opening day roster. Larry Drew preferred a more seasoned player to the likes of Damion James and James Anderson. Prior to signing with Atlanta, Anthony Tolliver courted a position with the Hawks via social media proclaiming that he would provide a dimension the Hawks lacked in the form of a stretch big. Beyond the long distance shooting touch expectation that he set himself, I think expectations were modest in that we expected a professional who would do whatever it took to stick with the club, but not really breakout. Looking at his last two seasons in Minnesota provided the wide contrast of what we might see from Anthony. In 2010-11 he was efficient and engaged shooting almost 41% from 3 point range. In 2011-12 you saw bad Anthony. He appeared in 14 less games and average 4 minutes per game less than the previous year as he never found his groove shooting less than 25% from 3 point range. We could hope for the best, but there was reason to fear that he couldn’t back up his shooting bravado.
In spite of the appearance of being the last guy to make the team it was apparent that he wasn’t at the bottom of the depth chart as he started game 2 at PF for an injured Josh Smith. That injury start turned out to be a rare occurrence as Anthony didn’t get his second start until February. Over the course of the season Anthony was the professional we expected playing in 62 games and even starting 11 and filling whatever role was needed without any ruckus. The real measure though of his season would be the long distance shooting he promised and in this area he was okay, but not thrilling. A firm meh would be my grade. We didn’t see 41% Anthony, but thankfully we were spared 25% Anthony as well. He split the difference with just under 34% of his 3 pointers made. To put it in perspective of the Hawks to attempt 100 or more 3 pointers he ranked 6th in accuracy just ahead of Devin Harris (yes, Josh was a distant 8th if you were wondering).
This one was pretty easy. I think it was shortly after his wife had given birth with what I think is their first child. The date was March 6th and Philadelphia was visiting the highlight factory. With 2 minutes left in the 1st Anthony Tolliver came in for Al Horford and he hit one basket before the quarter ended. In the 2nd quarter he really came alive hitting 4 more shots including 3 from deep and added a couple free throws to finish the half with 15 points. In his 5 years scrambling to stick in the league I’m not sure if Anthony has been the subject of many walk-off interviews, but he was on fire that night. He added 2 more 3 pointers in the second half and finished with 21 points (71.4% shooting from 3) and 8 rebounds. It was quite the game to celebrate being a proud poppa.
Personally I’m not opposed to his return. You need some solid vets off the bench who know how to play. I’m not sure he’ll get the opportunity though. When you analyze the production from the backup SF/PF spot on the roster without emotion I think you come away with the feeling that we are not getting consistent enough shooting and more importantly strong rebounding from the spot. There is definitely room for more production there. A lot of projecting who makes the bench depends on the coach's philosophy and what stage he sees the roster at. A coach secure in the idea of building a championship squad might try to develop a more talented youngster, while a coach fighting for survival likely would find comfort in a veteran like Tolliver being on the bench.