2014-15 Atlanta Hawks Season Preview: Centers


Sep 29, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford (15) talks to members of the media during the Atlanta Hawks media day at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

During our 2014-15 season previews, we will be previewing the starters, positions, bench, and more to get you prepared for the season. Next up: Centers.

The Atlanta Hawks have one of the best centers in the league, and his return from injury could mean big things for the team. Although Horford tore his pectoral muscle last December, he should be fully healthy and ready to contribute by the time the season comes around.

Horford isn’t the only center on the roster, though. The other three centers all offer something different, and it could be a nice collection of players if they stay healthy.

Let’s take a look at this group of forwards and the potential they have for this upcoming season:

The Players

First things first: Al Horford is not a power forward. He is not 7′ tall, but he is not a power forward. It doesn’t matter what he did in college, it doesn’t matter what you think he should be, Al Horford is a center. He has played the position for almost the entirety of his career, and has become one of the best centers in the league. He is also not injury prone. Pectoral tears are freak injuries at most, and do not have lingering effects.

Behind Horford is a grizzly veteran in Elton Brand who stepped up nicely in Horford’s absence last season. He is a great leader on and off the court, and he could be a nice big off the bench. They also have Pero Antic, who is a stretch-five, and Mike Muscala who is unproven.

The Rotation

Al Horford is the undisputed starting center, but the other three guys could be battling for playing time.

Here is our projected rotation for the center position:

C: Al Horford, Elton Brand, Pero Antic, Mike Muscala

The Stats

Here are the per game stats side by side from last season:


PTS: 18.6/REB: 8.4/BLK: 1.5/AST: 2.6/FG: 56%/ TO: 2.2


PTS: 5.7/REB: 4.9/BLK: 1.2/AST: 1.0/FG: 53%/ TO: 0.8


PTS: 7.0/REB: 4.2/BLK: 0.2/AST: 1.2/FG: 41%/ TO: 1.1


PTS: 3.8/REB: 2.6/BLK: 0.5/AST: 0.4/FG: 42%/ TO: 0.6

The Predictions

This is Al Horford’s team. If he can remain healthy and on track, he will likely land some national recognition. The rest of the guys will have to step it up to earn some minutes.

Let’s go one by one with predictions:


This could be a huge season for Horford. If he can stay healthy (which he should) then he will put up monster numbers. He has a ton of talent around him, and a system that he can thrive in as he gets more comfortable. With shooters all around, Horford will have the space in the paint to make a huge impact. He also fits well with Paul Millsap, and he could be the anchor for a team that contends for a high playoff seed.

There is a real chance Horford averages 20 points and 10 rebounds this season.


Elton Brand may be old, but he can still bring it. He stepped it up when called upon, and was a plus on both offense and defense. He is a leader because of his experience, and coach Budenholzer should rely on him again this season. The backup spot should be his to start, but if he regresses, there are two centers behind him raring to go. Expect Brand to be a dependable backup who can start if needed.


Pero had to lead the league in pump fakes last season.

In all seriousness, Antic played well for most of the season. He came in and hit outside shots at a nice clip for his size. His calue really increased in January, when he hit 43% of his three-point shots, and started a few games as well. He was worn down late in the season and the playoffs, but this season he should be fresher and more effective. Because of his shooting, he can play alongside Horford or Brand, so look for him to find a way to be on the floor for at least limited minutes.


Mike Muscala was brought over from overseas last season due to injuries, but he didn’t get much run. He has good size at 6’11, and could be a nice prospect if he continues to develop. He was the Atlanta Hawks’ best player during Summer League, showing flashes on both ends of the floor. It is highly unlikely that he will get playing time this season, but he should be able to step in nicely if he gets injured.

The Conclusion

The center position is all about Al Horford for the Atlanta Hawks. He should be healthy and ready to go, so this is a position of strength for them. Budenholzer mimics the Spurs by not allowing his stars to play heavy minutes during the regular season, so it will be key that all four centers are ready to step it up. It will be fun to see Horford return to all-star form again.

Don’t forget to “Like” the Soaring Down South Facebook page and “Follow” us on Twitter @SoaringDwnSouth to get up-to-date Atlanta Hawks/NBA news, rumors and analysis conveniently in your news feeds.