BOSTON – For most of his time in the NBA, Al Horford is credited for providing the kind of intangibles that factor into winning games.
While that certainly has been a factor in Boston’s success since the four-time All-Star signed as a free agent in 2016, intangibles can only take a player and a team so far.
Those intangibles have to be wrapped around production, something that always seems to be questioned in some capacity when it comes to Horford.
Regardless of where you fall on the Average Al/Awesome Al spectrum, the 6-foot-10 forward will have to be a major performer for the Celtics in certain tangible areas.
So what are those categories?
Horford was second on the team in minutes played (31.6) last season, but don’t be surprised if he takes the minutes played title this season. Boston has a roster that has a plug-in-and-play feel to it, full of interchangeable pieces that can pretty much fill in whatever gap exists. But as you scan the roster, there really is no one player who can adequately deliver what Horford does on a night-in, night-out basis, even in the short term. Because of that, look for the 32-year-old to become even more vital to the team this season.
Although he grabbed a team-leading 7.4 rebounds per game last season, there were nights when Horford’s rebounding numbers left a lot to be desired. But like many statistics, upon closer review, it seems as though Horford’s rebounding isn’t nearly as bad as some might believe it to be. He played in 72 games last season, grabbing at least five rebounds in 61 of those games. He led the team with 15 double-doubles and came within one rebound of a double-double on 10 other occasions.
Would anyone be shocked if Horford wound up leading the team in assists this season? He averaged 4.7 assists per game last season which trailed teammates Kyrie Irving (5.1) and Marcus Smart (4.8). So the idea of him essentially dishing out one more assist per game this season isn’t a stretch, especially considering his assists ratio (assists per 100 possessions) of 26.6 was tops among Celtics who averaged at least 30 minutes played per game.
THREE-POINT SHOOTINGreturn of Gordon Hayward this season along with the team’s younger players being more confident and assertive in their decision-making with added experience, there’s the potential for Horford to get even better looks on 3’s this season which should make him even more efficient offensively than he is now.
- MORE C'S QUESTIONS - What are some of the key intangibles for the Celtics?