Atlanta Hawks Player Preview: Tiago Splitter

Atlanta Hawks forward Tiago Splitter (11) is defended by Cleveland Cavaliers guard James Jones, right, in the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, in Cincinnati. The Hawks won 98-96. Photo: John Minchillo /Associated Press / AP
Atlanta Hawks forward Tiago Splitter (11) is defended by Cleveland Cavaliers guard James Jones, right, in the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, in Cincinnati. The Hawks won 98-96.
Hawks’ center Tiago Splitter went through many ups and downs in his first season with the Atlanta Hawks. Splitter was acquired via trade with the San Antonio Spurs last Summer. Splitter was brought to Atlanta to help the team improve in their rebounding flaws and lack of a solid rim protector. One of the main reasons adding Splitter made sense was due to his familiarity with the Hawks’ system which in many ways emulate the one ran in San Antonio and he was really close with Coach Bud, whom spent many seasons as an assistant for Greg Poppovich. 

Unfortunately, Tiago spent the early part of the season trying to gain chemistry with the players and settle in a role for the Hawks bench as well. Splitter started the season as the first big man to come off the bench and contribute while Al Horford and/or Paul Millsap took a break. Compared to last season, the Hawks offense received everything they expected out of Splitter. Unfortunately, the team’s rebounding issues didn’t improve and Atlanta ranked as one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA. Splitter appeared in 36 games for the Hawks and averaged (5.6) points per game and (3.3) rebounds per game.

Jan 9, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Tiago Splitter
Many people, including Hawks fans, were familiar with Splitter’s struggles with his health. During his tenure with the San Antonio Spurs, Splitter suffered through calf and hip injuries before being traded to Atlanta. During this season, the injuries were such a problem for Tiago, he was feeling pain both on and off the court which ended his Regular Season. “Splitter said the hip started to be an issue in late November, and that he was in miserable pain even away from the court.”-@KLChouinard  He decided to opt in for hip surgery while Atlanta had to figure out a way to move on without him. 

Late in February, the Hawks needed to address their ongoing issues with the lack of a rebounding presence so Atlanta signed Kris Humphries after a buyout agreement with the Phoenix Suns and gave Mike Muscala and Mike Scott more minutes with the second unit as well. Splitter says he’s feeling much better after the successful surgery on his right hip and is expected to be ready for Atlanta’s training camp in the fall. It was tough to watch Splitter miss games due to his injuries, especially midway through the season when Atlanta was struggling to win games. Despite losing Splitter, the addition of Humphries and the second unit’s contribution, Atlanta finished the season strong and earned the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference so credit the coaching staff for the proper adjustments.

Hawks center Tiago Splitter talks to Spurs center Tim Duncan in the second half on Dec. 12, 2015, in Atlanta.

Tiago Splitter is under contract until the end of the 2016-17 season and his health will have a huge impact on his future in Atlanta. Splitter is still a huge piece the Hawks are relying on for their future considering they have a decision to make about Al Horford and other key free agents over the next two seasons. Although he missed 46 games, he will be heavily relied upon to contribute for the Hawks as they will look to improve from their Second Round exit this season.  

“One of the things that Tiago believes in firmly and the (athletic performance staff) believes in, is to get him in great shape to come out of the surgery and give him his best opportunity to make it back,” Mike Budenholzer said. Training camp is a few months away and there’s plenty of time for Splitter to train this off-season and come back to contribute to the Hawks for the 2016-17 NBA season.

Garrett Brown
@_GMB96

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Phil Veasley
Phil Veasley is a resident of Atlanta who has been a die-hard Hawks fan since 2005. He is Civil Engineer student at KSU. Currently, Phil writes for Atlanta Hawks Talk while also managing all ATLSportsHQ sites. He can be reached on Twitter at @_ATLPhil

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