Boston Celtics: Is Al Horford the best passing big man in the NBA?

Al Horford is the embodiment of a versatile big man. He is so skilled and impactful on both sides of the ball, but arguably his most impressive skill is his passing ability.

Al Horford is a very unique basketball player. As a big man, the fact that he can dribble the ball up the court and drop dimes like a guard is a testament to his tremendous skill. Horford played a vital role in the Boston Celtics run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Al possesses a multitude of talents, but his passing is what sets him apart from the NBA’s best big men.

The 6’10 forward averaged 4.7 assists per game last season for the C’s. This is a solid number but it does not do justice for how great of a passer he really is. According to ESPN, Al finished with the fourth highest number of assists per game for his position last season behind just Giannis Antetokounmpo, Blake Griffin, and Draymond Green. One could argue that Horford’s number is more impressive because he plays significantly less minutes than Giannis and Griffin, and he certainly does not have the supporting cast of four all-stars like Green.

Al can find the open man off the dribble and in the post. When double teamed on the block, he does a terrific job of using his length to see over the defense and find the open cutter at the basket or a shooter in the corner. Despite his reputation as an elite playmaker, defenses still constantly make the mistake of attempting to double him when he is down in the post.

Horford is criminally underrated as a ball-handler. On numerous occasions last season he even brought the ball up the court for Boston and initiated the team’s offense. Off the dribble he does a great job of finding teammates in transition for easy hoops. When the game is slowed down and the Celtics run a half court offense, Al often uses his shot fake in order to create a path to the basket and then when the defense collapses after he puts the ball on the floor he has the awareness to kick it out to an open 3-point shooter.

When it comes to passing the basketball, Al Horford can do it all. This ability of his is invaluable to the offense of the Boston Celtics and it will continue to be for years to come. Players like Nikola Jokic and Draymond Green are individuals that are slightly better than Al at distributing the basketball, but he definitely deserves to be in the discussion for one of the best passing big men in the world.