The offseason additions of 6-foot-11 Tiago Splitter and 7-foot-3 Walter Tavares along with 6-foot-11 Mike Muscala, who's expected to have a bigger role this season, have added much need size to the Atlanta Hawks front court. The Hawks won a franchise-record 60 games; it was the reason why they were the No. 1 seed in the East, despite averaging 40.6 total rebounds (28th in NBA) and 8.7 offensive rebounds (last in NBA) per game last season.
Atlanta’s lack of size was exposed during last season’s playoff run, which ended in the Eastern Conference Finals. Splitter coming off the bench is expected to help the Hawks’ front court become more versatile when paired with Al Horford or Paul Millsap.
Paul Newberry of the AP wrote about the Hawks’ hope that by addressing their size weakness they can become more versatile on both ends of the court:
- "The Cavaliers out bounded Atlanta by double-digit margins in three of the four games and finished with a staggering 52-39 average lead on the boards. 'One of the major improvements this team can do this season is rebounding,' Splitter said. 'Of course, if you improve the rebounding you also improve the defense. That's one of the reasons I'm here.' Coming off the bench, Splitter will allow the Hawks to go with a bigger lineup when paired with either 6-10 center Al Horford or 6-8 power forward Paul Millsap, who are both a bit undersized for their positions. ... With more help on the inside, the Hawks are counting on Horford and Millsap to show even more out of their versatility at both ends of the court. Defensively, they can pop out on the perimeter, knowing someone has their back. Offensively, they are likely to get more open jumpers if Splitter and Tavares have defenders worried about protecting the rim."