What should we expect from Al Horford?

What should we expect from Al Horford?

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.


It’s impressive how far Horford has come with his 3-point game, to the point where he connected on a career-high 42.9 percent of them, which included 97 makes, a career high. Horford’s ability to help space the floor with his long-range shooting will continue to be a weapon for the Celtics. With the return 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.

Enes Kanter shows big support for 7-foot-7 Tacko Fall in latest tweet

Enes Kanter shows big support for 7-foot-7 Tacko Fall in latest tweet

Enes Kanter seems to be a fan of Boston Celtics' 7-foot-7 rookie Tacko Fall.

Kanter posted a video to Twitter of Fall practicing at Auerbach Center, and he took time to praise Fall's efforts on Twitter.

The Celtics' signed Kanter to a two-year $10 million deal back in July, while Fall entered Boston's system as an undrafted free agent but he impressed in the Las Vegas Summer League. Kanter is the replacement for Al Horford, who left the Celtics over the summer for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The two should be a great duo for the Celtics, as both have the height and skill to be something special this coming season.

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Record predictions for the 2019-20 campaign

NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Countdown to Celtics Camp: Record predictions for the 2019-20 campaign

Entering training camp a year ago, expectations were sky-high for the Celtics. Most pundits considered them the team to beat in the East. Vegas fancied Boston as a 59-win team, the second-highest win total behind only Golden State. And a Finals matchup between those two teams was far from a pipe dream.

Fast forward a year and expectations have been tempered. The Celtics lost a pair of All-Stars this summer in Kyrie Irving and Al Horford and, despite signing another in Kemba Walker, the team finds itself widely considered a Tier 2 team in the East behind projection darlings Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

So what happens this year? Do the Celtics go back to being the sort of overachievers that have defined Brad Stevens’ coaching career? Will a younger roster struggle to simply meet even the lowered expectations of this season?

To wrap up Week 1 of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our NBC Sports Boston panel to look into their crystal balls and predict not only Boston’s final win-loss record but how far they’d advance in the playoffs.

The  Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook projects Boston at 49.5 wins this season. The Bucks (58) and Sixers (55) top the Westgate projections and the next five teams all reside in the west. 

The Celtics went 49-33 last season, settling for the fourth seed in the East. They swept the Victor Oladipo-less Pacers in Round 1 but bowed to the top-seeded Bucks in five games in Round 2.

When you consider that Westgate’s four lowest win totals reside in the East (Knicks, Wizards, Cavaliers, Hornets) and seven East teams sit below 40 wins, it feels like the Celtics should reasonably win 50+ games despite the roster changes.

So we’ll put the Celtics at 52 wins and a spot in the East semifinals. That seeding would likely mean a second-round matchup jousting with either Giannis’ Bucks or Embiid’s Sixers and Boston’s frontcourt development might dictate just how competitive those series could be. Remember, too, Stevens tends to produce his best magic when you least expect it.

The irony, of course, is that the Celtics could win 49 games this season and get bounced in Round 2 again but if they develop chemistry and are more enjoyable to watch then last year’s gang, then Celtics fans will be far more OK with that script playing out a second time — well, so long as players make the sort of strides that suggest more is possible in the coming years.

Abby Chin: 50-32 Eastern Conference Finals

I think purely based on better chemistry and grit, this team will improve on last year’s win total. And, I’ll bank on some luck in the playoff bracket. Maybe with injuries, or regular season Al Horford, Philly and Milwaukee fall to the 2 and 3 seed so the Celtics could avoid them in the first couple rounds.


A. Sherrod Blakely: 50-32, East Finals

I'm gonna keep the cookies on the bottom shelf with this one. They are a better team (team not individuals) than they're going to get credit for, and they have a roster that's full of talent with a huge chip on their shoulders from the coach on down. This group will play harder, smarter and win a lot of games they probably shouldn't and by doing so, keep Celtics fans extremely happy all season.

Max Lederman: 51-31, lose in 2nd round

Before last season the Celtics have always overachieved under Brad Stevens. I expect a return to that with lowered expectations this season. The Celtics also had their worst record vs winning teams last year since Brad's 2nd season. They should put up a better fight this season.

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