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What Al Horford’s injury means for the Hawks

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Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford underwent season ending surgery today to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Horford suffered the injury during a December 26 double-overtime win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Hawks are currently third in the Eastern Conference and the only team in the east with a winning record outside of the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers. Atlanta is only two games ahead of the Washington Wizards in the standings and in danger of sliding down.

Losing Horford is a major blow to a Hawks team that has opened a few eyes. Horford is Atlanta’s leading scorer (18.6), rebounder (8.4), and shot blocker (1.5). It’s impossible to replace that kind of production. Atlanta inserted veteran big man Elton Brand into the starting lineup over the last three games to modest results.

A former NBA All-Star, Brand is averaging just 4.6 points and 2.3 rebounds as a starter. Macedonian center, Pero Antic is likely to see increased playing time in Horford’s absence. The 6’11” center has over a decade of international experience, but is just a rookie in the NBA.

The Hawks have been in talks with the Houston Rockets about acquiring disgruntled center Omer Asik. Asik is not a high volume scorer but would fit in nicely with the Hawks. The problem is Atlanta is reportedly dangling Paul Milsap as the bait to acquire Asik. Losing Millsap only further depletes Atlanta’s front line scoring depth.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer has done a stellar job thus far in his first season with Atlanta. Atlanta is the tenth best scoring team in the NBA (103.3 ppg) and twentieth best in opponent’s field goal percentage (46%). Due to his offensive acumen and the Hawks wing scoring Atlanta should remain competitive, but losing Horford leaves such a big void in their lineup.

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