When the Atlanta Hawks agreed to terms with European big man Pero Antic over the summer it raised a number of eyebrows among fans and pundits alike. Antic has enjoyed a successful career overseas but what sort of role will he play in Atlanta?
Rafael Uehara of the Basketball Post tried to answer that question with an excellent breakdown of Antic's strengths and weaknesses. Offensively, Antic has good size at 6-11, 260 with nice mobility and a nice shooting stroke from the outside. He filled the role of reserve big with Olympiacos primarily as a stretch big man and that is likely the role he will fill in Atlanta. As Uehara writes, Antic filled the shooting role reasonably well:
To be fair, Antic took a lot of outside shots because that was his role on the team and not a lot of his minutes came in lineups also featuring Vassilis Spanoulis and Kostas Papanikolaou, Olympiacos' best threat on the pick-and-roll and best three-point shooter, so the looks he got mostly came from an offense ran by Acie Law IV, Kostas Sloukas, Martynas Gecevicius and Dimitrios Katsivelis - neither quite your average NBA playmaker. It is undeniable Antic is a bit trigger-happy, though, which is kind of a shame because he can be a generally smart player on offense at times, recognizing and filling the open voids left by the defense or helping ball movement with well timed passing. Unfortunately that's not something he did often, though.
While most has been written of Antic's offense the quickest way to a significant role with the Hawks could be on the defensive end of the floor.
Defensively, Antic proved to be a very sneaky good helper. Olympiacos won back-to-back Euroleague championships due to a defense that turned into elite at the right time of the year. Dorsey and Hines were mostly attributed as responsible for anchoring the unit but Antic played an important role as well. He often recognized the right situation that called for him to leave his man and rotate in time. He is not much of a shot blocker nor does he draw a lot of charges (a combined nine in 31 Euroleague games) and he is an average defensive rebounder for a player his size but had good understanding of defensive principles in the European game.
The biggest question is where Antic will fit in Atlanta's new look frontcourt? Paul Millsap and Al Horford are entrenched as starters and you have to figure that Elton Brand and Gustavo Ayon have a leg up heading into training camp. That leaves Antic competing with Mike Scott and trying to crack the rotation.
However, Antic's experience and shooting touch could prove to be valuable in Mike Budenholzer's offense. He could see plenty of touches in pick and roll situations and his defensive IQ as a help defender could ease his transition to the NBA. If it works out, the Hawks have a bargain in Antic who reportedly signed a contract worth $1.2 million with an option for next season.