One clear sign that a new NBA season is just around the corner is when various publications around the web start dropping their top 100 player countdowns. SI.com dropped part one of their Top 100 NBA Players for 2016 list on Monday and new Atlanta Hawks center Tiago Splitter checks in at No. 74.
It pays to have friends in the NBA, as Hawks president and coach Mike Budenholzer proved again this summer when he acquired Tiago Splitter from the Spurs—where he served for years as an assistant to Gregg Popovich—for nothing more than a protected second-round pick. Despite injury issues that cost Splitter 30 games in 2014-15 and more than 20 games in 2013-14, the 6'11" Brazilian center was no standard salary dump. San Antonio needed to make way for All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, and Splitter was simply the odd man out. Don't be fooled by his modest per-game numbers: Splitter is an effective contributor on both ends who should mesh well with Atlanta's San Antonio-like pass-heavy offensive philosophy, and with its two All-Star big men: Al Horford and Paul Millsap.
Splitter figures to play a big part for the Hawks off the bench next season and will see a lot of time on the court alongside Al Horford and Paul Millsap. His defensive presence and his championship pedigree should be a welcomed addition to the Hawks.
No other current Hawks players were listed among Nos 100-51, but several former players did make the list. New Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll lands at No. 81 and one spot ahead of former All-Star Joe Johnson. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year award winner and Atlanta native Lou Williams comes in at 92 while Josh Smith checks in at No. 96.