Boston Celtics: Al Horford the team’s biggest early season surprise

One of the biggest early season surprises for the Boston Celtics have been the revival of veteran big man Al Horford.

Despite all the early season drama the C’s have battled, the five-time All-Star has found the fountain of youth as he has been playing above and beyond his age. In fact, its hard to think where this Celtics team would be without the energy of the 35-year-old big man who has really made his presence felt on the defensive end.

Boston Celtics big man Al Horford has found the fountain of youth

In averaging 13.1 points and 8.9 rebounds a game, it is his shot blocking that has Bleacher Report clamoring about the early season play of Horford. Highlighting every team’s biggest early season surprise, BR writer Grant Hughes backs up his claim with the following:

“He’s rejecting shots at over twice the frequency of his previous career high.

Incredibly, he already has two games this season with at least five blocks. He’d never posted more than two such contests in any full year of his career. If his numbers hold, Horford will approach the record for blocks per game by a player 35 or older, threatening to pass guys who actually had reputations for rejection such as Tim Duncan, Alonzo Mourning and Patrick Ewing.”

It is hard to argue against BR’s selection here as Horford is averaging over 2.4 blocks per game and has really helped reinforce that Boston Celtics defensive energy that had been missing. While the team could use another big man presence, the impact Horford has had on Robert Williams further supports the impact he has had since returning to the C’s.

As a veteran presence, Horford has really become the mentor Williams has needed to raise his game, which is probably the biggest reason Celtic president of basketball operations Brad Stevens brought the veteran big man back into the mix.  But not even he could’ve expected the duo the two have become while on the court together.

Perhaps it is Horford feeding off the youthful energy of Robert Williams, but either way, he has found that fountain of youth that has the Celtics looking like a team again, even with the early season struggles of Jayson Tatum, the trade rumors surrounding Jaylen Brown and the drama that follows Marcus Smart.

Al Horford the glue keeping the Boston Celtics together

Within all of that, Horford has been the team’s anchor, holding things together and remind the team that they need to cherish their time on the basketball court, as he is proving with his re-energized play at the age of 35.

“I think the biggest thing, and I told the guys, is making sure that we make the most out of this opportunity,” Horford said, via NBC Sports Boston. “I’m very grateful to be here with the Celtics and it doesn’t matter kind of what has happened in the past. We have an opportunity now, this season, we have all the pieces that we need to be successful. So, I just tell them to take advantage of this.

“When I look back on my long NBA career, I know there’s definitely some teams that are like, ‘Man, if we could have,’ or if this were to happen or that were to happen. I don’t want to have any regrets. I think our group is committed. We’re committed to continue to get better to take advantage of this opportunity that we have.”

While the overall commitment of the Celtics squad as a hole was challenged with a very underachieving 2-5 start to the NBA season, things are finally starting to gel, and Al Horford is a very big part of that.

As the team moves forward, it will be important for the veteran big man to continue his energy and defensive effort, which will continue to make Robert Williams a better player and feed off on the rest of the team who are looking at and up to him as an inspirational example of what dedication to team basketball looks like.