Al Horford is Making His Case as One of the NBA's Best

Will BrownContributor IJanuary 19, 2011

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 21:  Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks against Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat at Philips Arena on October 21, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

For a guy playing Center that most people think should be playing Power Forward, the Hawks’ Al Horford is quietly putting together a fantastic year.

Horford, at only 6’10” 245 pounds, is on the smaller side to play Center in the NBA, but that doesn’t take anything away from him as a player. Horford is considered a plus defender unless facing a much taller post player to go along with an ever improving offensive game. Horford is putting up 9.7 rebounds per game to go along with 1.17 blocks on average on the defensive side, and scoring 16.5 points per game while shooting 56% from the field.

None of those stats are off the charts, put perhaps the best stat to show Horford’s value to this team is his 22.64 PER(Player Effeciency Rating) in which Horford is sixth in the East, in front of big name players such as  Carlos Boozer, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Chris Bosh. Horford’s PER also ranks 17th in the NBA.

Horford’s PER rating has improved each year, including making the 3.21 jump from last year’s final rating of 19.43. Horford has in fact improved in nearly every category this year, making it clearly his best year of his career, and putting him in place to perhaps gain more exposure around the league as one of it’s best.

Horford’s overall improvement might make him the best player on his own team. Josh Smith(19.3) ranks 15th among players in the East, while Guard Joe Johnson(18.24) is ranked 21st, making them one of four teams in the East(Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Boston Celtics) with three players in the conference’s top 25.

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Horford also is one of East’s best when it comes to the most important aspect of the game: winning. Horford adds a projected 8.8 wins per year, the sixth best in the East. Lebron James leads the NBA in this category at 11.6, which begs the question: Is Lebron only worth three more wins than Horford? According to statistics, yes.  Horford and Smith are the two guys from the Hawks in the top ten.

If there is something that fans may want to see from Horford is him taking a few more chances on the offensive end. With his amazing field goal percentage, which ranks him fourth in the entire NBA, a few more chances a game down low from Horford can only improve the Hawks, but his continuance to play at this level may help the Hawks get over the playoff hump anyway.

Not bad for a guy that is playing out of position.


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