Posted: 7:00 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013
By Kris Willis
We continue SB Nation's summer network wide theme post series with NBA Bring Back a Player Day in which we ask what player from your team's history would you like to have on its current roster? Its an interesting question and after much thought I am going with adding one of the all time great defensive centers in Dikembe Mutombo.
For the last several offseasons Hawks fans have clamored (or pleaded in some cases) for the franchise to acquire a legit defensive minded center that would allow Al Horford to move to the power forward position full time. Mutombo's presence would allow for that move and cause a number of headaches for opposing teams.
Mutombo joined the Hawks in 1996 and played four full seasons before being traded midway through the 2001 season. His accomplishments as a shot blocker are well chronicled but he also led the league in rebounding during the 2000 and 2001 seasons where he averaged 14.1 and 13.5 per game.
Defensively his impact went beyond the numbers and he probably doesn't get the credit that he justly deserves. Recently CBSSports.com's Matt Moore suggested that it was Mutombo's game that more of today's big men should pattern their own games after.
Mutombo presents maybe a better model for big men to learn from than Olajuwon. Olajuwon's individual basketball intelligence and natural skill made him an all-time legend. Mutombo was never an elite-level player but he was a four-time defensive player of the year, trying to develop unnatural skills like post moves and offensive ability which is dependent on coordination and grace. Mutombo was a consistent All-Star in his prime, but his unique brand of attacking at the rim could be more easily integrated to various NBA systems. Yes, the development of stretch fours and fives complicates the matter, but schematic defenses can adjust for that better than they can to trying to force action to the rim to prevent scoring opportunities when the defender is pulled back.
Given the Hawks current situation at small forward it would have been easy to gone with Dominique Wilkins. Another scenario I saw was going for a wing defender like Stacey Augman who would also fit well. However, after thinking about it, Mutombo's impact would arguably be the biggest and the hardest to duplicate in today's game.
Exit Question: What former player would you like to see on the Hawk's current roster?