CEILING-TO-FLOOR: HORFORD ADDITION A SOLID STEP TOWARD CELTICS MOVING AMONG NBA’S ELITE

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Post by bobheckler on Thu Aug 18, 2016 1:51 pm

http://www.csnne.com/boston-celtics/horford-addition-solid-step-toward-celtics-moving-among-nbas-elite



CEILING-TO-FLOOR:  HORFORD ADDITION A SOLID STEP TOWARD CELTICS MOVING AMONG NBA’S ELITE Ceiling_to_floor-horford





HORFORD ADDITION A SOLID STEP TOWARD CELTICS MOVING AMONG NBA’S ELITE



By A. Sherrod Blakely

August 18, 2016 12:15 PM




Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Al Horford. For a look at the other profiles, click here.


BOSTON – Signing Al Horford this summer wasn’t exactly the fireworks that Celtics Nation was looking for, but adding him sent a clear and undeniable message that the Celtics were intent on not just being in the hunt for the best players – but finding ways to actually acquire them.

With Horford aboard, Boston now has the pressure of being one of the hunted in the Eastern Conference for the first time under Brad Stevens, who now has three seasons under his belt.

If Boston holds its own against most foes and finds itself near the top of the East at the end of the regular season, you can count on much of the credit being given to the Horford signing.

He may not immediately come to mind when you think of the NBA’s elite players, but you will be hard-pressed to find too many two-way big men better than the nine-year veteran.

But Horford is with a new team full of players he has never played with, so it’s hard to say how long it will take for him to be comfortable on the floor while doing the things on a consistent basis that have made him a four-time All-Star.

However, there’s one thing we do know about him already: Horford’s going to play a lot because 1) he’s that good, 2) you don’t sign players to max contracts unless you plan to play them a lot and 3) he is an absolute perfect fit for the style of play Boston has displayed under Stevens.

Here’s a look at the ceiling as well as the floor of Horford’s game heading into this season.


The Ceiling for Horford: All-NBA second or third team

We’ve already seen him excel enough to where the Eastern Conference coaches voted him in as an All-Star. But with Boston, Horford has a shot at doing more than just having a great season.

With the Celtics, the potential is there for Horford to be a much better scorer than we saw in the past few years in Atlanta.

In his previous nine seasons with the Hawks, Horford wound up with fewer scoring opportunities in part because of fellow All-Star Paul Millsap.

Millsap’s mid-range game, and ability to finish around the rim via post-ups and off the dribble, were among the factors that led to Horford becoming more of a stretch big who could knock down 3s.

Last season, Horford took 256 3s. In his eight seasons prior, the 30-year-old launched a total of just 65 3-pointers.

With the Celtics, Horford won’t be looked upon to shoot as much from the perimeter. Instead, he’ll be counted on to be an inside-outside scorer whose capable of finding the best mismatch and taking advantage of it.

More than his scoring, Horford’s impact should be felt most on defense even if he doesn’t necessarily rack up the kind of stats that fans often associate with above-average defenders.

He doesn’t block a ton of shots, but he averaged 15.8 contested shots per game last season, which ranked second in the NBA behind now ex-teammate Millsap.

He also ranked among the league’s leaders in defensive win shares, a statistic that takes into account a player’s defensive rating as well as according to NBA.com/stats, “marginal defense and marginal points per win in a team’s game.”

Horford’s defensive win shares was 4.6 which ranked fourth in the league behind Golden State’s Draymond Green, San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard and Warriors guard Stephen Curry.

That kind of play will go far in Boston’s quest to get back near the top of the Eastern Conference standings, something that could improve Horford’s standing in the eyes of All-NBA voters this season.


The Floor for Horford: Top 3 scorer, rebounder for Celtics

Horford is just too talented, too smart a player to not rank among the team’s top three in most categories this season. Amir Johnson or Jae Crowder are the only real threats to Horford not being the team’s leading rebounder.

And as far as scoring, Horford has been consistently solid in this department regardless of who’s on the floor with him.

In his nine NBA seasons, Horford has averaged at least 15 points per game each of the past four seasons and has never averaged fewer than 10.1 points per game (his rookie season).

A 15-point per game scorer has been one of Boston’s top three scorers each of the past three seasons under Stevens. With Boston having more depth scoring-wise now, that trend isn’t likely to end this season.

While it’s true that Horford’s game has room to grow, if it stays where it has been in recent years that’s still an upgrade for Boston. Horford was signed to help continue Boston’s trend towards becoming a team that can eventually contend for an NBA championship. No one is disillusioned to believe that adding him will automatically make that happen. But there’s no question having Horford on the roster is a step in the right direction, even if he puts up numbers similar to what he has done in past years.



bob


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