Atlanta Hawks Player Preview: Gustavo Ayón
Birthplace: Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico
Born Date: 4/1/1985
Height: 6′ 10″
Weight: 250 lbs
True Position: Power Forward (4)
411: Gustavo is a big man from Mexico with a jovial personality. He is the third Mexican-born player in history to play in the NBA following Horacio Llamas and Eduardo Najera. Gustavo is usually in a good mood and it’s probably because he was married in 2011 and on March of 2012, the couple gave birth to a son. Gustavo, though he’s not fluent in the English language, he has fun learning the language, always holding a huge smile as he communicates with other English speaking people. Gustavo may be from Mexico, but he loves Italian food. Click play below and learn a little more about Gustavo from Atlanta Hawks media day.
Basketball Background: Gustavo’s journey to Atlanta has been a long one starting about 1800 miles away at the University of Puebla in Mexico. He played 3 seasons from 2003-2006 at the university, earning the MVP of the Mexican national college championship tournament while leading his team to the championship in 2006. Gustavo would then sign with San Jose State University, but instead of playing with the Spartans, Gustavo signed with Halcones UV Xalapa, a Mexican professional team. He played 3 seasons with Halcones UV Xalapa, helping the team win back-to-back Mexican league titles while being named an Mexican league All-Star in 2009. The same year, Gustavo also played in Venezuela with Vaqueros de Agua Prieta, helping them win a championship as well. From there he would play in Spain’s top basketball division, the ACB League, with Baloncesto Fuenlabrada. He was named “Best Newcomer” in the ACB League after averaging 11 points and 6 boards in just over 22 minutes per game while shooting 67% from the floor in 33 games. Gustavo’s success along with his large frame caught the eye of NBA GMs and after paying a $1.5 million to Baloncesto Fuenlabrada to buy out his contract, he signed a 3 year deal with the then New Orleans Hornets in 2011.
During his rookie season with the Hornets, Gustavo, in 54 games played (24 starts), led the team in field goal percentage (54%) while averaging 6 points, 5 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 20 minutes per game. The following season Gustavo was traded to the Orlando Magic in a sign-and-trade deal for Ryan Anderson. In 43 games with Orlando (3 starts) maintained a high field goal percentage (54%) though his scoring, rebounding and minutes dropped considerably. He was then traded again before the trade deadline in February to the Milwaukee Bucks along with guards Ish Smith and J. J. Redick for guards Beno Udrih, Dorian Lamb and forward Tobias Harris. He played in 12 games with the Bucks and was waived by the team on July 25, 2013. Four days later Gustavo was claimed off waivers by the Hawks, thus completing his 1800 mile journey to the capital of the South. In September, Gustavo led Mexico to the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship versus Puerto Rico, being named MVP of the tournament.
Expectations: Gustavo is a big man who likes to play down low. You won’t see many if any 3-point attempts. He shoots a high field goal percentage but he’s a very poor free throw shooter. Expect Gustavo to compete for minutes with new edition, Pero Antić, Mike Scott and Elton Brand in relief of Paul Millsap and Al Horford. The Hawks could use some size on the inside as rebounding will be crucial for a somewhat small team with no true center. If anything, you can count on Gustavo to be a great teammate to help build chemistry in the locker room with his bright personality.
You can follow Gustavo on Twitter @AyonGustavo. You can follow me @nottydred to get all your Atlanta Hawks news and information. Til then, thank you and stay blessed.