Horford Adding Three-Pointer To Repertoire

Al Horford
Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE/Getty Images

Back in May, Al Horford made a decision to diversify his skill set and work on his three-point shot. 

"It started the day we finished playing," he said. "It's a point of emphasis that I made. I want to be better. If you work on things and you give effort, Coach (Mike Budenholzer) is going to support it."

Horford used the four-month offseason to do that work. 

"I always try to work on things in the summer. I have gotten a chance to work on those shots. I never want to shoot a shot if I haven't worked on it. I feel comfortable with it. I understand that I have to be near the paint, (working) pick-and-rolls, working around the basket, but I want to be able to have the ability that if I need to shoot those shots, to take them."

Budenholzer is fully supportive of Horford's shooting range.

"Through the summer and through 12 days of camp, Al has shown a comfort level with all threes, including the ones above the break," Budenholzer said. "I think he just has a confidence and a belief that he can make them. We want him to take them when he is open. I think that was probably a big hurdle, just to feel good and feel confident shooting threes."

Last season, Horford attempted only 36 three-point shots in 76 games, and he attempted all but 7 of those shots from the corners. In total, he made 11 of his 36 threes (30.6%).

For the 2014-15 season, Horford also attempted 365 two-point shots from a distance of 15 to 23 feet. He was also one of the most accurate NBA players on such shots, making 180 of those 365 attempts (49.3%).

In the first two games this preseason, Horford has flipped that shot location ratio on its head, making 3 of 6 three-point shots and attempting just 1 mid-range shot. In addition, none of the successful three-point shots were shot from the corner.

Part of the significance of the shot location is that if Horford is making "above the break" three-point shots and not just the ones from the corners, then he becomes another option to set a pick for point guards and then "pop" out for a three-point shot when the Hawks run the pick-and-roll plays for Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder that initiate their offense.

Expect Horford's mid-range excellence to continue, but also expect Horford to use the three-point shot to loosen up defenses. 

Horford sees the skill as a way to help the overall picture.

"It helps our team," he said. "The ability to have your 5-man stretch out and every now and then shoot a shot like that, it keeps the defense honest and stretches the floor."

Story by KL Chouinard
Twitter: @KLChouinard

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