76ers bring Al Horford off bench, ending his 824-game starter streak
Al Horford started his previous 824 games – the NBA’s sixth-longest active streak of not coming off the bench, behind only:
- Chris Paul: 1,003
- LaMarcus Aldridge: 952
- LeBron James: 915
- Russell Westbrook: 849
- Kevin Durant: 849
Horford’s streak ended last night.
The 76ers started shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz in their win over the Clippers. Horford came off the bench for the first time since his rookie year.
76ers coach Brett Brown, via Hudrick:
Philadelphia has five clear top players:
- Joel Embiid
- Ben Simmons
- Tobias Harris
- Josh Richardson
That five-man unit has actually played well this season, outscoring opponents by 8.5 points per 100 possessions. But that group – due to injuries and then Richardson coming off the bench for Shake Milton the previous couple games – hadn’t started together in nearly a month. In the prior month, the five-some outscored opponents by just 3.6 points per 100 possessions.
The 76ers have sounded frustrated amid moderate disapointment.
The Horford-Embiid pairing was a particular challenge. That’s the only of the 10 top-player duos that has been outscored this season.
Philadelphia signed Horford to play power forward with Embiid, yes. But the 76ers also valued him playing center when Embiid sits. So, moving Horford to the bench made some sense.
Horford still played 28 minutes, slightly less than the 31 minutes per game he was getting as a starter. Still, it’s tough to construct a winning roster when a backup big is earning $97 million-$109 million over four years. We’ll also see whether Horford chafes more after coming off the bench in a loss. It’s harder to grumble after a win, especially over a good team like the Clippers.
Beyond Horford-Embiid, the only top-player duo with a net rating below +3.0 is Embiid-Simmons (+1.3). The 76ers have shown no interest in breaking up that star pairing. Maybe that’ll change in the offseason.
But, for now, Horford is the latest player caught in Philadelphia’s long-running search for players who fit around Embiid and Simmons.