In a condensed season with games piled on top of each other, every body on the roster counts and the Atlanta Hawks are about learn this lesson the hard way as all-star forward Al Horford is expected to miss a large chunk of time.
Thursday the Hawks announced that Horford’s torn pectoral muscle will most likely require surgery and a three to four month layoff.
Although Horford has not had a stellar year, the Hawks will undoubtedly miss his production. Horford has started in all 11 of the games he has appeared in averaging 12.4 points, seven rebounds and 31.6 minutes per contest.
Atlanta has showed depth this season with at least seven Hawks scoring seven points or more per game. Unfortunately for the Hawks, most of their depth is found in the backcourt.
Centers Zaza Pachulia and Jason Collins will probably see more action but Collins so far has logged an underwhelming 28 minutes the entire season.
The one bright side (if you would call it that) is that Horford is completely under-utilized. You would be hard-pressed to find an all-star that gets fewer touches than Horford, so his absence won’t completely change what the Hawks try to do on offense. Despite having practically no plays ran for him, Horford makes the most of his opportunities, as his 55.3 percent shooting form the field is a team best.
The biggest part of Horford’s game the Hawks will miss is his mid-range shooting. Jeff Teague and company will quickly to discover that driving lanes are much tighter without Hordford their to suck opposing bigs out.
This will probably be the most time Horford has ever missed in a season as he has played at least 77 games three of his four seasons in the NBA.
Being that this is the first time the Hawks will be without Hordford for a large chunk of the season, it is hard to gauge how much the Hawks will miss their all-star big man. But considering that the Cleveland Cavaliers are currently holding down the eight best spot in the Eastern Conference, it’s not crazy to think that the Hawks could still make a playoff run.
The Hawks looked sharp in their first game without their big man on their way to 111-81 win over the Charlotte Bobcats (2-10).
Tonight’s game against the Minessota Timberwolves will prove to be a bigger test. Kevin Love, second in the league in rebounds (14.7) and sixth in scoring (24.5), will be a tough cover for a shorthanded Hawks front-court.