Hawks Season In Review: Gustavo Ayon
Note: We use stats per 36 minutes instead of stats per game on the graphics. The reason behind that is stats per 36 tell a more complete story of how a player did while he was on the court, as opposed to per game stats which averages a player’s stats based on the number of games that player appeared in, regardless of how many minutes he played. The per 36 minutes compares all players equally by taking the minutes played out of the equation to measure the most effective players during their time on the court.
Coming into the season, the Hawks looked to have a deep frontcourt rotation, and Gustavo Ayon figured to be one of the options for Coach Mike Budenholzer off the bench. Ayon was fresh off of a terrific showing in the FIBA Americas tournament where he earned MVP honors and led the Mexico National Team to a surprising tournament win. In the preseason, Ayon suffered a right shoulder injury that kept him out of the rotation until mid-November, but he got an opportunity to play in 26 games before he re-injured the shoulder and was forced to have season-ending surgery.
In those 26 games — 14 starts — Ayon averaged 4.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.0 steals in 16.5 minutes per game. Over a 10-game stretch from late January through mid-February, he averaged 6.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, culminating in an impressive performance in Toronto on Feb. 18 where he scored 18 points and hauled in 10 rebounds on 9-of-11 shooting in 30 minutes. Unfortunately, that would be his last full game as he re-injured the shoulder after just six minutes of play in Indiana.
Ayon struggled a bit early as he worked his way back from injury but began finding his form and his role with the team in that latter stretch of games before his second shoulder injury. He, when healthy, gave the Hawks some much needed size in the middle, and during that stretch of games in the starting lineup he began to find a rhythm on both ends of the floor — making solid rotations on defense and finding openings around the rim on offense.
Ayon’s injury further limited the Hawks’ frontcourt options and left Elton Brand and Pero Antic as the only two healthy centers on the roster. Ayon’s impact on the Hawks was limited this season by injuries and the difficulty in finding minutes early in the season, but when he was offered an opportunity as the injury toll grew, he was able to become a solid rotational player for Coach Bud.
Click here to see Ayon’s season gallery
Graphic by Lucas Armstrong/Atlanta Hawks
Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty Images