“I played 42 minutes once, so I’ll give myself a [team MVP] vote.”
That quote really sums up Elton Brand’s season with the Hawks. In the season’s first month, Brand did not play in eight of Atlanta’s first 15 games. However, or the rest of the season, Brand would become a huge part of the Hawks’ rotation as the team dealt with devastating injuries to its frontcourt.
Brand came to the Hawks on a cheap contract — one year, $4 million — expecting to play any role that the Hawks would need from him: veteran leader in the locker room, guy off the bench when needed, etc. What he likely did not expect, however, was to end up starting 15 games, including a seven game stretch in February where the 15-year vet was playing over 34 minutes per game and was nearly averaging a double-double (9.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg) along with two assists and two blocks.
Defense is where Brand made much of his impact during the 2013-14 season. After Al Horford went down with his pectoral injury, Brand became the de facto defensive anchor on a number of nights and became the team’s best rim protector. Brand had a career-best block percentage with 4.9% (via Basketball-Reference) and kept opponents to just 50.2% shooting at the rim. The league average for defending the rim was around 53%, which of course does not include attempts such as breakaways that have no defender at the rim. (via NBA.com)
However, in the playoffs, all of Brand’s positive impact essentially became moot, as the Indiana Pacers likely represented the worst possible matchup for Brand to be able to make his presence felt. In order to defeat the Pacers, the Hawks needed to spread the floor as much as possible and Elton was just not able to do that. Yes, Brand did show some nice mid-range game overall during the season, but against the Pacers, he would have needed to have been effective from further out than 15 feet and he is not capable of doing that.
So what’s next for Brand and his career? The early sense is that Brand would consider retirement, but it later came out that he is looking forward to a 16th season in the NBA. Just from what I’ve gathered during the season, it seems like Brand enjoyed his time in Atlanta and is a fan of the coaching staff and team executives. It would not be too shocking to me if Brand’s 16th professional season was a second season with the Atlanta Hawks.