Al Horford has been the heart and soul of the Atlanta Hawks since we drafted him 3rd overall in the 2007 NBA Draft. If he retired today, he would still go down as one of the best to put don our uniform. Horford is now in his prime, and I expect the best years to come. Horford has finally had a full season to recover from his torn pectoral muscle from the 2013-14 season, and has had another year under Coach Bud’s system. He undoubtedly looks much more comfortable on the floor, and is experiencing perhaps the most success this franchise has ever achieved. His statistics are up from last season. He has a great all-around wing man big in Paul Millsap. Most importantly, the team added Tiago Splitter, allowing Al to shift to the 4. This gives him offensive opportunities he has not had in his time with the Hawks. However, what has impressed me most is Al Horford’s improved three-point stroke.
If you’ve been watching the Hawks, you’ve certainly noticed Horford pulling up much more often from beyond the arc. His three-point shooting is something he worked hard on this offseason. His 15-20 foot jumper has been nearly automatic in recent years, but it appears he has expanded his range. Horford has already tied his season-high in three point attempts through ten games with 36 on the season. Thus far, he has experienced success. He is shooting 33% on the season from that distance. Not only does this make Horford more dangerous, it makes our starting lineup nearly impossible to guard. Every single starter in our lineup is a capable shooter. Don’t believe me?
Hawks Starters and 3PT% (2015-16)
Jeff Teague- 32%
Kyle Korver- 38%
Kent Bazemore- 44%
Paul Millsap- 36%
Al Horford- 33%
As you can see, the Hawks can flat out shoot. Sure, maybe Kent Bazemore doesn’t sustain that clip but I guarantee Kyle Korver shoots over 40%. This makes the Hawks so hard to guard because a lot of big men can’t keep up with stretch bigs, especially two of them at the same time. When big men have to go out on the perimeter, it leaves the lane open for the Hawks to finish at the hoop. So many of our players, such as Millsap, Bazemore, Schroder and Teague, are excellent at finishing at the hoop. If they don’t come up to guard them? They drain the three ball. This is why you’ve seen Al get wide open shots all season, and he’s taking advantage. It’s never too late to work on your game, even when you’re rapidly approaching 30. It takes the right work ethic, and Horford certainly has that.
The elephant in the room is that Horford is a free agent following this season. Adding the three ball to his repertoire certainly enhances his value, but he’s a max player regardless. I expect him to have a career year given these circumstances. Horford is the heart and soul of this team, and he has the right personnel and situation to succeed in Atlanta. His work ethic as well as his commitment to the team as well as the city of Atlanta is a huge reason why we’ve experienced so much success with him in the starting lineup in recent seasons.