7 Impressive Stats From Al Horford's Season
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For the Atlanta Hawks, Al Horford is the rock – the foundational piece and culture-setter.
Back in October, at the start of a timeout of an early preseason game, Horford took a young player to the side to gently instruct about one of the finer points of the team's scheme.
"I was just helping him and pointing something out to him, and just trying to help him be better," Horford said at the time. "Everybody on our team does that. Everybody takes up on that role, whether it's Thabo (Sefolosha) or Paul (Millsap) or (someone else). We pull the young guys aside and we talk to them."
Horford was right in saying that the other senior Hawks to do the same, but at the same time, Horford, the longest-tenured Hawk, remains the one from whom the other veterans take cues.
The Hawks chose Horford with the 3rd pick of the 2007 NBA Draft. At that point, Atlanta had missed the playoffs for eight consecutive postseasons. Horford arrived, and the team righted the ship. Since his arrival, the Hawks have played in nine consecutive postseasons.
As much as Horford meant to the collective unit this season, he still managed to stand out on an individual basis. Below are seven facts that illustrate the kind of season that he compiled.
1) 82 games
Horford played in all 82 regular-season games and was the only Hawk to do so. In total, just 18 NBA players played 82 games in 2015-16, and Horford was one of only six players to start all 82.
2) Rim protectio
Like Paul Millsap, Horford embraced the nuances of the verticality rule and took protecting the rim to new heights. But even though verticality typically emphasizes a blockade of the restricted area over putting a hand on the ball, Horford still got plenty of blocks.
For the first time in his career, the 29-year-old broke the 100-block plateau in a season. In fact, he blasted past it with a total of 122 blocks.
3) Accuracy near the rim
Horford converted on 55.7 percent of his two-point attempts on the season. As good as he was on midrange shots, he was even better at the rim.
Of the players who took three or more shots per game within 5 feet of the rim, Horford was the second-most accurate shooter in the NBA after DeAndre Jordan. Horford made an incredible 72.3 percent of his attempts from that distance.
4) Precision passing
Among NBA centers, Horford ranked fifth in assists (3.2 per game).
Even more impressively, he was racking up those helpers without making a lot of miscues. Among centers, he had the best assist-to-turnover ratio by a substantial margin.
5) Adding a new weapon
From the outset of the preseason, it was clear that Horford had a new weapon at his disposal: the above-the-break three-point shot. Many of the pick-and-pop midrange shots that Horford took in prior seasons morphed into pick-and-pop threes this season.
Prior to this season, Horford had never made more than 11 threes in a season. For 2015-16, he made 88 threes and converted them at a tidy 34.4 percent clip.
6) A rock for the starters, a rock for the bench
Head Coach Mike Budenholzer routinely made Horford the first of the team's starters to leave the game. As a result, he could be substituted back in earlier so that his talents were shared with both the starting unit and the reserves. Horford did fantastic work with both.
The Hawks' lineup with the greatest total point differential in 2015-16 was Horford plus the other four usual starters: Kent Bazemore, Kyle Korver, Jeff Teague, and Millsap. They outscored opponents by 106 points over the course of the season.
The lineup with the second-greatest total point differential was Horford with four bench players: Tim Hardaway Jr., Mike Scott, Dennis Schröder and Thabo Sefolosha. They outscored opponents by a total of 59 points.
7) All-Star all over again
For the second consecutive season and fourth overall, Horford was named to the NBA's All-Star team.
Story by KL Chouinard