That replacement came in the form of two men.
Brand, a career 17.4-point per game scorer, is a 14-year veteran who averaged 7.2 points and six rebounds a game in a one-year stint with the Dallas Mavericks. It was the first season in which the 34-year-old averaged less than double digits in scoring.
Brand will have to revert back to his old ways if he’s going to fill the shoes of the 27-year-old Smith. Smith averaged 15.3 points and eight rebounds per game in nine seasons with the Hawks, yet was never voted to an All-Star game.
According to USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt, Ferry believes Brand can still contribute to this team, saying:
“Elton brings a veteran presence both on and off the court and is a welcomed addition to our locker room. His ability to play center or power forward will give our frontcourt a great deal of versatility and we think he will be an outstanding fit to our program.”
Not only does Brand give Atlanta some versatility from either the 4 or the 5 on offense, but he’s a better than average defender as well. The two-time All-Star averages 1.8 blocks per game for his career and even had a string of six seasons in which he averaged at least two swats per game from 2001-02 to 2006-07.
Now with the additions of Brand and Millsap, the Hawks have a strong frontcourt when you combine the likes of Al Horford—a two-time All-Star—holding down the center position.
Ultimately, I think the success of Atlanta heavily relies upon the play of Jeff Teague this season. I recently touched on how important Teague will be to the Hawks this season, noting that he’s one of the brightest budding point guards, but if he doesn’t play at a high level, I don’t think Atlanta has enough to sustain a winning record throughout the season.
But that doesn’t mean the addition of Brand isn’t important.
Atlanta should have one of the better post games in the NBA with Brand, Millsap and Horford, and should play some sound defense as well.
Millsap will likely get the starting job at the 4, but Brand will be a nice weapon off the bench for a Hawks team that won’t have it easy in the East this season.