What About Al Horford?

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 30: Al Horford
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 30: Al Horford /

Al Horford is the lost man in a crazy summer, but that does not change how important he is to the Boston Celtics

This time last year, Al Horford was the centerpiece to the Boston Celtics‘ buzzworthy summer. Now if you Google Horford’s name, there’s not much material. Sure they’ll be plenty of hits that mention the 31-year-old big man, but most of them will focus on Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and even Jayson Tatum.

From splash signing to the neglected member of a newly formed big three; it’s crazy how much can change in a year.

I’m not saying Horford isn’t an important part of this team, because he is, but as of late he’s become more of an afterthought. It makes sense for the headlines to focus on the acquisitions of Irving and Hayward. In spite of that, lets think about Al. How does he fit into this new bunch?

The current issue that’s pressing the Celtics is the lack of an interior presence. Without a rim protector, Boston will never be able to compete with Golden State for an NBA title. So that’s where an all-star big man comes in, right?

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Not quite. Horford isn’t your typical DeMarcus Cousins. He’s not going to dominate in the paint with blocks, nor lead the league in rebounds. He’ll make the majority of his contributions on the perimeter or by knocking down mid range jumpers.

As his skill set describes, Horford normally plays a stretch four. This season, expect to see the 6’10 big man playing center on a full time basis. But this isn’t to say he won’t be useful for Brad Stevens’ new-look team.

Kyrie is a good creator. Not great, but just about average. He’s been in the league for six seasons and sits at 25 years old (3 years younger than Isaiah Thomas), so he definitely has time to develop in a new system. Horford is someone who can gain from this development. In the Celtics ball moving offense, Irving’s explosiveness will create plenty of space, which will in turn give Horford (and Hayward) a plethora of catch and shoot opportunities.

Horford may not be leading the headlines like last summer, but he can benefit from this recent trade. Being a solid creator himself, Horford should welcome the addition of Irving. Yeah, he technically won’t be in his traditional stretch four role, but that doesn’t mean his entire game is going to change.

Irving will be able to create plenty of opportunities for him, while Hayward will pose as another dangerous perimeter threat for opposing teams.

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So as tough as it may be, ignore the Anthony Davis rumors for now. Embrace and focus on the big at hand. He may not have an eccentric unibrow, but Al’s still here, and Celtics are going to need him.