Boston Celtics 2017 player preview and predictions: Al Horford

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: Al Horford
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: Al Horford /

Al Horford, the Boston Celtics’ biggest signing from a year ago, may be the forgotten man on the team this year.

When I say the forgotten man, I don’t mean that Boston Celtics big man Al Horford is going to come off the bench and only see a certain amount of minutes per game. He’s still going to start every game he is available for and play big minutes. He is just going to see a smaller workload on offense, and some younger guys might get some more playing time at his position.

With Al Horford, you have to consider his age as a factor. He is nearing the downhill stretch of his career. He is in his thirties, which is normally the time we see a decline in production. While this hasn’t seemed to be the case for the former Florida big man, the Celtics will still be cautious. Aron Baynes will probably get some solid minutes off of the bench at the Center spot.

Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics /

This is kind of sad, considering he is making $27 million this year. He was a big part of the Celtics’ success last season on both sides of the ball. He served as a veteran presence while also staying a top player in the league. His impact on the court has been energizing when the team has needed a spark, and the team will continue to benefit from his consistent and all around production.

The Preview

Last season, Al Horford was arguably the best passing big man in the league. He has always been good with the ball in his hands, whether at the top of the key or with his back to the basket along the elbow or the wing. That ability to see the floor and make a play resembles Chris Webber closely.

The Celtics’ big was also the total package on offense. He contributed in almost every major category. He shot the ball well, passed it well, and he even provided opportunities for second chance points. Al didn’t always get the rebound, but he opened the door for someone else to as well by fighting for position.

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Horford’s stats reflect the type of play that I’m describing. Over the course of 68 games during the regular season, Al averaged 14 points, 5 assists, and almost 7 rebounds per game. These stats look good on paper. But when you watch that type of play, it is like poetry in motion.

Al Horford’s shooting percentages were great. He made a little over 47 percent of his roughly 12 attempted shots per game. He also hit 35.5 percent of his almost 4 treys per game. Horford also made a career high 80 percent of his free throws.

In Horford’s first game as a member of the Boston Celtics, it was easy to tell he was in the best team for his style of play. He was given the freedom to make plays with the ball in his hands. The offense instantly improved when he was in the lineup.

The Prediction

Since the Boston Celtics have completely retooled since their season ended in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, Al Horford will not be required to do nearly as much as what he needed to last year. However, he will need to play a significant role in the starting lineup. The Celtics could still use him in multiple sets at the power forward position, with Aron Baynes playing the Center.

The Celtics big will now have to play a new role on the team. Since he has already added the 3-ball to his arsenal, he can now serve as a stretch big. If he can hit that shot at an even higher rate this year, Boston’s offense will be that much more effective.

Taking into consideration the changes in personnel and play styles, I imagine Horford will have an efficient season. He probably won’t be an all star, but he will be a major contributor. I could see him averaging 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists per game. Al should have plenty of opportunities to make some magic happen, even though Kyrie will probably have the ball the most.

Next: Boston Celtics: Notes and quotes from team’s first practice

The Celtics are in for a big year. Al Horford could be too.