Society Top 50: No. 44- Al Horford

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Al Horford
Al Horford (via: Ryan Cowan)

Name: Al Horford

Ranking: 44

Team: Boston Celtics

2016-17 General Statistics: 14.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 5.0 apg, 1.3 bpg, 47.3 fg%, 35.5 3pt%

2016-17 Advanced Statistics: 17.7 PER, 55.3 ts%, 6.3 WS, 1.0 OBPM, 2.0 DBPM, 2.8 VORP

 

The Breakdown

Horford is amongst the game’s stretchiest and most diverse big men. Now at 31-years-old, Big Al is a far cry from the 17-and-10 threat he was in Atlanta, but he remains one of the league’s best all-around centers, evolving perfectly into today’s game.

Last season, his five assists a night helped pace a Boston offense that, with scoring-minded  (former) point guard Isaiah Thomas running the show, often found itself in need of playmaking. Horford works well out of the high post, both with his back to the basket and when facing up, allowing for the Celtics talented off-ball options to slice and dice their way through a defense.

Much of that pass making came thanks to the open floor created by Horford’s three point shooting. After taking only 65 three pointers over the first eight seasons of his career, Horford took 256 in 2015-16 and 242 in 16-17, stretching his game out to match the pace-and-space style that has taken over the league.

The good news for Boston fans is that not only is he taking more three’s, but he’s also making them.

Of big men who took at least 200 three pointers last season, Al ranked 9th in three point percentage at 35.5, just behind Kristaps Porzingis, Boogie Cousins and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Defensively, Horford isn’t quite the all-around world beater that he is on the offensive end. He doesn’t quite have the speed to stay with some of the games younger, quicker big men and at just 6-foot 10-inches, is also slightly outmatched against taller opponents.

That’s not to say that Horford is by any means useless defensively, or even that he’s bad on that end. His DBPM of 2.0 has him above league average and it’s fair. After all, Horford is still a talented shot blocker and while athletically he might not blow anyone out of the water, he does a good job of protecting the rim against non-elite competition.

No, you won’t see him switching out onto opposing guards and wings or quickly covering ground to get back for an emphatic block. But Horford’s defensive value isn’t found in those qualities. Instead, he excels with a high defensive IQ and simply by knowing where to be and when to be there, a skill impossible to teach.

Horford’s age is beginning to become more and more noticeable, but alongside Boston’s offseason acquisitions of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, he’ll be asked to do even less than in the past.

Spread it out, create pick and roll options and continue his solid D. Big Al isn’t going anywhere.

 

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