Offseason Roundtable | Adding Horford Creates Enticing Possibilities
For the second installment of our 'Offseason Roundtable' series, Sixers.com's Brian Seltzer, Sixers Radio Network announcer Tom McGinnis, and 97.5 FM The Fanatic host Devon Givens examine the signing of Al Horford, and the value the five-time All-Star figures to bring to the 76ers' roster.
New All-Star Frontcourt Pair
The first thing that crosses my mind when it comes to Al Horford and Joel Embiid are their hard-fought battles as Atlantic Division foes the past three seasons. Head-to-head matchups have brought out the best in the two All-Stars, with each one having his share of success on both ends of the floor, in both the regular season and playoffs. It's been great basketball.
Now, instead of watching Horford and Embiid compete as fierce rivals, we get to witness something better - the two players as teammates, in a pairing that might possibly create one of the best two-way frontcourt duos in the NBA.
Horford comes to Philadelphia boasting an already strong reputation as one of the better defenders in the Association, as both a power forward and center. His versatility and I.Q. often put him in the best possible position to win his individual assignments, which in turn leads to team success.
This partnership could help Embiid, an All-Defensive Second Team performer, and the Sixers tremendously. The matchup flexibility that Brett Brown could now have should be fun to watch.
Specific to Horford, an argument can be made he's never played in tandem with a talent in the middle like Embiid. And, having spent a good amount of his career at the five, he now has a chance to slide over to the four alongside Embiid and showcase his offensive talents.
Who fits best against small-ball lineups with stretch fours and fives versus more traditional lineups? How often do you have one of them hedge out on the perimeter? These answers might not be there yet, but they'll come soon enough.
Defense, pace, and space are major parts of how the Sixers operate. The new look frontline led by Horford and Embiid will likely be a key component for the 76ers to continue this style of play effectively.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) July 12, 2019
Legitimate 3-Point Threat
I'm going to piggyback here off something Devon alluded to in his post, and dive a little bit deeper into Al Horford's offensive talents. Specifically, his 3-point shot.
Horford's deep touch in and of itself is impressive enough. But given that he really didn't have much of a perimeter stroke to speak of, at least on paper, up until four seasons ago stands out even more.
Since 2015-16, the year before he joined the Boston Celtics, Horford has knocked down 344 total threes, while shooting 37.1% from beyond the arc. Fewer than 50 players in the NBA have reached those same minimums.
His ability to punish opponents when the floor is spaced, or by spacing it himself, is a bonafide weapon. Scan his splits and shooting charts from the past four campaigns, and you'll see that some of his best 3-point work comes from zones above the break, especially from straightaway range.
With Horford now in the fold, that means Tobias Harris will likely shift to the three spot in what is expected to be a skilled, sizable 76ers starting lineup. Horford at the four, however, should ensure the team retains an exceptional 3-point threat at that position.
Feels right to us too, @Al_Horford.
Sound On pic.twitter.com/MBHYI7q5De
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) July 13, 2019
Proven, Winning Pedigree
My broadcast vantage point at TD Garden in Boston, home of the Celtics, provides a pretty good view of the Celts' huddle during time-outs. I can still visualize Al Horford leaning over to show one of his teammates what works and what doesn't.
As we all know, in recent years, in the intense rivalry that is 76ers-Celtics, Boston's plays, which were often keyed by Horford, worked. Now, he’s a 76er! That’s an original, “Are you kidding me!?”
Horford is a winning player:
A champion in college at the University of Florida. A perennial star on those Atlanta Hawks teams that racked up 50 plus wins per season not too long ago. That's not even mentioning what Horford brought to the Celtics the past few seasons. He's a five-time All-Star whose teams have made the postseason every year of his career.
I can still see Big Al making a huge steal in Game 3 of the 76ers' Eastern Conference Semifinals series against Boston in 2018. Or, a play in the latter stages of that same game, right after the steal, when he forced a defensive switch and got the ball over the top on a sideline inbounds play where he scored a crucial bucket. There's also the timely 3-point baskets he hit on any number of occasions against the 76ers.
Plus, his defensive aptitude is stellar. Brett Brown talks about ‘quarterbacking the gym’ regarding how a point guard runs the team, the flow of a game etc...
Well, Al Horford is like an All-Pro middle linebacker running a defense. Additionally, his veteran savvy, high-character, and much noted basketball I.Q. make him a tremendous addition to the 76ers.
Lastly, when you’ve seen as much NBA talent as we’ve all seen over the years, you admire players from afar. Horford is one of those talents.
With the All-Star now on the Sixers, we won’t have to look any great distance. He’s on our team, and he figures to be a main attraction at The Center helping the 76ers to become one of the best teams in the NBA.