2022 Free Agency & Trade Analysis: Karl Amon, Hawthorn

Welcome to the 2022 Free Agency & Trade Period analysis series. Over the next fortnight, the plan is to look at every player heading to a new club. It’s not going to be a ‘who won the trade’ series, but rather a look at how players fit into existing setups, or what changes they may force.

After nine years at Port Adelaide, Karl Amon is heading to Hawthorn on a four-year deal.

It’s a great fit for both player and club. Amon has security through the rest of his prime and then some, while the Hawks plug in a wing who complements everything about how they want to move in possession.

This post will be split into two parts – how Hawthorn are building the ball movement part of their game, followed by how Karl Amon fits into it.

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After that they’ll be free for all. Given the Patreon is only running until the end of October, signing up now means only one monthly payment is needed before it goes on hiatus until March 2023.

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The Hawthorn ball movement

For the first two-thirds of the season, Hawthorn led the entire league in scores per inside 50.

Round 1-15, 2022Scores per inside 50 %AFL rank
Hawthorn47.6%1st
Geelong45.8%2nd
Sydney44.8%3rd
Western Bulldogs44.6%4th
Brisbane44.2%5th

It was off the back of rapid ball movement, using that to create great opportunities and overcome a gaping inside 50 disadvantage. In these 15 rounds, Hawthorn won the inside 50 count … once.

The Round 2 Notebook used bulk video clips to demonstrate the running patterns Hawthorn use out of the back half to cut Port Adelaide up time and time again.

Over the home and away season, Hawthorn ranked fifth for total points from defensive half possession chains. It’s a rarity for a bottom six side to be so efficient in this area, and it speaks volumes of the system Sam Mitchell installed in possession.

The Round 10 Notebook highlighted how Hawthorn use their defenders to create a full-ground, full-width offence to stretch defenders.

Width is, naturally, where a winger comes into play. Working under the assumption Amon will be used nearly full-time in this position (with spot on-ball minutes), it projects as a seamless fit.

Another quality option through the midfield lessens the reliance on half-backs to create themselves and gives Hawthorn more unpredictability in their ball use. The system of movement clearly works, so having more players within that to carry it out at a high level – it can only be a good thing.

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Posts continue to come thick and fast. If you’ve missed anything recently, here are links to catch up:

Thursday 29th: Look Back/Ahead: Geelong
Wednesday 28th: Look Back/Ahead: Sydney
Sunday 25th: 2022 Grand Final: A stoppage domination
Friday 23rd: Look Back/Ahead: Collingwood
Wednesday 21st: Look Back/Ahead: Brisbane

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The Amon addition

Before getting into Amon’s skill set, what’s flown under the radar is his reliability. At 73 consecutive games, it’s in the top 10 of current streaks.

PlayerCurrent Consecutive Games
Jack Crisp188
Todd Goldstein109
Christian Petracca107
Jack Macrae97
Charlie Cameron92
Luke Parker88
Callum Wilkie85
Jayden Short78
Karl Amon73

Undoubtedly that played a part in Hawthorn’s decision to hand Amon a four-year deal. As illustrated at the top of the page, only Mitch Lewis (2026) and James Sicily (2027) have contracts of a comparable length.

With the midfield shaping as an area of focus in 2023, Amon is the first piece in to strengthen it.

On-field, Amon’s skill set translates well to – and this isn’t meant as a backhanded compliment in any way – an outside, uncontested role where he can become a high metres gained player.

Port Adelaide’s style this year favoured considered, measured ball movement, whereas Hawthorn were all about speed in possession. Amon fits much better into the latter camp, yet being able to showcase his talent in the former says plenty about why Hawthorn targeted him.

Over the last two years, Amon has racked up 1,086 disposals. Approximately 23 percent of those were contested, placing him in a similar area to players like Isaac Smith, Lachie Hunter, and Lachie Whitfield, just to name a few.

They all play similar, well-defined roles (even allowing for GWS’ mad science experimentation this year), and Amon will likely be entrusted to do something similar on the outside. Assuming Harry Morrison continues on the other wing, it suddenly gives Hawthorn multiple options for how to use the position – especially if Finn Maginness continues to float in and out from time to time for specific matchups.

With 2023 shaping as a year where the Hawks bed down their on-ball rotation, Amon also doubles as a back of the line option, filling out minutes where needed. This year he attended 17 percent of Port Adelaide’s centre bounces, a sixth or seventh choice depending on the week.

If Tom Mitchell ends up leaving, all of Newcombe, O’Meara, Ward, Moore and Nash (in some order) are still ahead of Amon, who can fill out the remaining minutes capably. Heavy on-ball minutes expose his lack of contested game, but in small doses it’s not an issue.

Meanwhile all of Amon’s strengths on the outside should be put to good use with the way Hawthorn play. It’s an astute move by the Hawks, picking up a good player to improve a team-wide strength and fill a position of need. They’ve barely put a foot wrong all year.

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In case you missed it, the Look Back/Look Ahead series recently wrapped.

Every team’s list was analysed in depth, with a key question picked out for 2023. In some ways the posts work hand-in-hand with these individual analyses, understanding needs and priorities.

Here are all the links to catch up on:

North MelbourneReadWest CoastRead
GWSReadEssendonRead
AdelaideReadHawthornRead
Gold CoastReadPort AdelaideRead
St KildaReadCarltonRead
RichmondReadWestern BulldogsRead
MelbourneReadFremantleRead
BrisbaneReadCollingwoodRead
SydneyReadGeelongRead

Here are all the Patreon details and how to sign up.

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