The loss of Tiago Splitter may force the Atlanta Hawks to look for new options at center before the trade deadline.
In the last hours leading up to the trade deadline, this can severely impact the Hawks’ plans.
The last few weeks have been rampant with rumors of trades involving Al Horford, Jeff Teague, and Kyle Korver. The Hawks have been linked to big names such as George Hill of the Indiana Pacers and Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets. None of these speculated trades have gone through yet.
The loss of Splitter leaves Atlanta lacking depth at center. Al Horford has played extremely well in the last few games, while Mike Muscala has filled in for Splitter of the bench.
On one hand, Splitter’s injury increases the chances that Horford will stay. Atlanta needs a big man, and Horford is their best. He has been a reliable point scorer as of late, hitting over 60% of his shots in the last few games. Horford’s continued presence at center provides Atlanta with stability and continuity, both of which are crucial to a cohesive basketball team seeking playoff success.
On the other hand, this leaves Atlanta with a hole on their bench. With Splitter done for the year, the Hawks will be asking Mike Muscala to step up.
The Sixers contacted the Hawks about Teague and Dennis Schroder. Since Atlanta has already talked with several teams about trading Teague, moving him would be the most likely move. Between Noel and Okafor, the Hawks should go for Okafor. Although both big men have had a history of injuries, Noel’s have been more extensive.
Both would provide plenty of size and rebounds. Okafor, however, is averaging 17 points per game this season versus Noel’s 10. The Hawks will be parting with one of their primary scorers in Teague if they were to go through with this trade. Therefore, Atlanta needs to maximize their point scoring return as well.
If this trade occurs, the Hawks will have something they have been lacking all season: a big man who can score from the bench. Come playoff time, that would be a huge benefit.
One of the primary reasons the Hawks lost to the Cavs in the Eastern Conference finals last year was their inability to defend the basket.
Having Horford and Okafor out there would not definitively protect the basket at all times, but it would be a step in the right direction, and possibly, with improved shooting that vanished last year, the Hawks might be able to pull a late round upset.