Atlanta Hawks Free Agent Signings – Part 2: Pero Antic and Gustavo Ayon

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via @antic12pero

Pero Antic, PF/C

Former Atlanta Hawks players have migrated to Greek basketball power Olympiakos. Josh Childress was the first. He refused to re-sign with the Hawks at the end of the 2008 season. The Hawks had offered Childress a reported deal that would pay him over $5-million per year. However, It was not enough. Childress spurned the Hawks offer for a more lucrative deal to play in Greece. Since then, former Hawks Acie Law IV and Josh Powell have followed Childress’ lead and suited up for the legendary Greek squad. So, it’s about time Olympiakos returned the favor and sent a player the Hawks way. This summer, in the form of 6″10′ Pero Antic, Olympiakos finally ponied up.

Pero Antic is an accomplished basketball player. He has spent the past two seasons helping to lead Olympiakos to back-to-back European titles. He is also a current captain on his national team, the Republic of Macedonia. He has been played in integral role in helping Macedonia to a 3-0 record in this year’s Super Cup, which is a “friendly” tournament intended to prepare participating teams for the more prestigious EuroBasket (the European Basketball Championship). Macedonia will play in EuroBasket and Antic is scheduled to play. The tournament, per Hawks.com, wraps up on September 22.

Antic is 31-years old and will be the first player from Macedonia to ever play in the NBA. Standing at 6’10″ and weighing 260 lbs, Antic presents an imposing figure. He does, however, spend a great deal of on offense playing beyond the perimeter. Last season, Pero shot 115 times from 3-point land, connecting on only 30-shots (26.7%), in 31-games for Olympiakos. His shooting percentage increased from inside the three-point line, where he made 51.5% of his shots, although he only shot 66 2-point baskets.

Pero is known for being a physical player, but his rebounding totals for Olympiakos do not make this case. He only averaged just 3.2 boards a game last season. His totals have been much more impressive on the glass when playing for Macedonia, however. Pero led Macedonia to the 2011 EuroBasket Final Four, where they were defeated by a Pau Gasol led Spanish team. Antic averaged 8.8 boards in the tournament, including a 19-rebound performance against Finland.

My Take: This was one of the more interesting signings of the entire NBA offseason.  Many fans had never heard the name Pero Antic, prior to his signing with the Hawks.

After spending the past several seasons watching Josh Smith hoist 3-point attempts at the most inopportune times, Antic may give some Hawks fans cause for concern. He seems to camp on the perimeter and does not appear to be shy about shooting the ball, despite his low shooting percentage from beyond the 3-point line. Could this lead to problems? I don’t think anyone really knows. Many have never watched Antic play for any extended period of time. And, it’s too hard to predict how his game will translate to the NBA.

Given Danny Ferry’s and Mike Budenholzer’s faith in using advanced stats when implementing game plans, it’s hard to imagine Antic being allowed to take ill-advised shots. Look for Antic to be used in several pick-and-pop situations, similar to Paul Millsap and Al Horford on offense. Antic does shoot a decent percentage inside of the 3-point arch. I have no trouble picturing him setting picks for the likes of Jeff Teague and receiving the ball for a 15-17 foot jump shot.  Plus, don’t forget: Antic has shown the ability to finish when given the ball at the rim. He does have some athletic ability, as this Pero Antic highlight real shows.

Defensively Antic looks to fit the part of a solid contributor. He has the size to guard a variety of players in the paint. And, just from looking at him, it’s easy to tell he has a bit of an intimidating presence. I do not expect Antic to back down from anyone he has to guard.

Antic is one of the major X-factors for this upcoming Hawks season. He has a career filled with plenty of success. At 31-years of age, he turned down good money and familiar surroundings at Olympiakos to take a crack at the NBA. That has to be respected. Watching his development and usage will be one of the top stories of the Atlanta Hawks preseason.

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Gustavo Ayon NBA Free Agency Pero Antic