Boston Celtics center Al Horford had the best year of his career last season. At age 32, how can Horford continue to improve so that Celtics can seize their chance to be champions?
The Boston Celtics young guys shocked everybody with how well they played all season long and especially in the playoffs after Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward were lost for the season and understandably received much of the media attention. However, it was Boston Celtics center Al Horford who put his team in position to play for an NBA Finals appearance.
As always with Al, it wasn’t about the numbers. But Horford outplayed Giannis Antetokounmpo in a hard-fought 7-game first-round series; in a 5-game beat down of Philadelphia, he alternatively guarded Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, completely taking Simmons out of the series and giving Embiid, the runner up Defensive Player of the year, fits with his shooting and speed on the perimeter. Kevin Love practically called him Daddy in the Eastern Conference Finals.
If the young guys didn’t puke all over themselves in Game 7 like Donovan McNabb against the Patriots in the Super Bowl, Boston would have made the NBA Finals and dethroned that dude in Cleveland.
Frankly, Horford was flat out hosed of Defensive Player of the Year honors last season. No player had as wide-ranging and all-encompassing role on his team’s defense, and the Celtics ranked No. 1 in defensive rating. The guy who won the award, Rudy Gobert, is a phenomenal defensive presence to be sure, but he only played 56 games and can be a liability in the right match up.
In addition to his defensive mastery, Horford also posted a career-high three-point percentage , ranking 10th in the league at 42.9 percent, and only Nikola Jokic had more assists from the center positon.
Until 2015-16, Horford had never attempted more than 36 three-pointers in a single season, and now he’s made at least 88 three-pointers in each of the past three seasons. Horford’s proven he can evolve and keep pace with a changing league; even at an age when most players get comfortable with who they are as a player, he has continued to grow his game and adapt a role that best suits the tides of his team and the currents of the league.
How can Horford adapt his game this season to help Boston advance to the NBA Finals?