Al Horford - the Celtics' Resurrected Saviour of the Season

Mugsy's Jock

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Godamn that was a great game from Al. Want nothing more than to see that man hoist a trophy.
He did a great job against Embiid in the playoffs last year, which a lot of folks forgot in the aftermath of his disappointing Finals. Team Al, all the way.
 

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I think Mazz has done a great job being circumspect with Al's minutes until a game like yesterday when he was really needed. And even in that game, his subbing go Al matched up very closely with Embiid. Not only did this give Al the best chance for success, but it meant that it gave Kornet the best chance for success as well.
 

Bunt Single

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Interesting how in that clip, each time Embid takes a step toward the rim, a help defender steps over just to take a swipe at the ball (from a few feet away), then quickly retreats. Not double-teaming him, just suggesting they might, to hurry and/or worry his shot a bit.
 

benhogan

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I think Mazz has done a great job being circumspect with Al's minutes until a game like yesterday when he was really needed. And even in that game, his subbing go Al matched up very closely with Embiid. Not only did this give Al the best chance for success, but it meant that it gave Kornet the best chance for success as well.
CJM has been excellent with details like matching Horford minutes with Embiid.

It seems like common sense but many HCs, for whatever reason, don't work on that micro of a level
 

Euclis20

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Horford is shooting .409 from 3 this year, proving that last year's career year behind the arc wasn't a fluke. What's equally impressive is that he's been just as good coming off the bench as he's been starting:

As a starter (22 games): .411 on 107 attempts
As a reserve (23 games): .405 on 74 attempts

After what felt like a rocky first couple weeks, he's been incredible. .439 from 3 since November 15.
 

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He was great last night, and I'm sure will enjoy his night off tonight as he makes plans to get outta town for the weeklong vacation.

Would be a real shame if he "caught a cold" while in the DR and had to be out another week after the ASB. If we didn't see him again until March 1st vs Dallas or March 3rd vs the Warriors, even if that means missing him in MSG on the 24th, I would be very happy knowing he's going to be in better shape going into the playoffs.
 

InstaFace

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From another thread:
Yeah.. I think this is just a way of stating what I mean, but better said. I think Tilman brings a particular set of skills... different than Kornet's. But they're both complimentary to the team and the players we have. The bench may have been 'weak' to start the season, but when you have a starting five as good as they are, that can then be played with the bench in any number of configurations.. that bench doesn't look as bad. And you also have a sixth man that could start on other teams. With that said, I also think...
Let's just take the bolded for a second. How many teams in the league would Horford start for, as either a 4 or a 5? Assuming they similarly treated him well re: back to backs, etc. Horford has been in "very slow but steady decline" for years now, is below-average on offense but DARKO has him at +2.24 Defensive DPM, 90th percentile for Centers. I'll take a stab, at just the Eastern Conference for now.

Definitely would start (6): ORL (who even is their starting C), CHI (Patrick Williams), ATL (Capela), TOR (...Boucher?!), CHO, WAS (they have no bigs)

Maybe would start (4): CLE, MIA (Highsmith), BKN (Finney-Smith, Claxton), DET (Stewart / Jaden Duren)

Definitely would not start (4): MIL, NYK (if healthy), PHI, IND (with Siakam... they're a maybe if Toppin is still their 4)

Most of the teams he'd start for already have "a poor man's Al Horford, but younger" starting for them.
 

Euclis20

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From another thread:


Let's just take the bolded for a second. How many teams in the league would Horford start for, as either a 4 or a 5? Assuming they similarly treated him well re: back to backs, etc. Horford has been in "very slow but steady decline" for years now, is below-average on offense but DARKO has him at +2.24 Defensive DPM, 90th percentile for Centers. I'll take a stab, at just the Eastern Conference for now.

Definitely would start (6): ORL (who even is their starting C), CHI (Patrick Williams), ATL (Capela), TOR (...Boucher?!), CHO, WAS (they have no bigs)

Maybe would start (4): CLE, MIA (Highsmith), BKN (Finney-Smith, Claxton), DET (Stewart / Jaden Duren)

Definitely would not start (4): MIL, NYK (if healthy), PHI, IND (with Siakam... they're a maybe if Toppin is still their 4)

Most of the teams he'd start for already have "a poor man's Al Horford, but younger" starting for them.
Yeah I don't know that Horford is truly a starter level player for a title contender any more (unless he's definitely your worst starter), but his real strength is his (and the starting 5's) flexibility. His size and his age make him definitely a center in today's NBA (and 95% of his minutes from 2021-2023 were at center), but if literally any of Boston's starting 5 is out, Horford can slot right in without the team missing a beat on either end of the floor. It's remarkable that Celtics have a 37 year old center who can do that.
 

lars10

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From another thread:


Let's just take the bolded for a second. How many teams in the league would Horford start for, as either a 4 or a 5? Assuming they similarly treated him well re: back to backs, etc. Horford has been in "very slow but steady decline" for years now, is below-average on offense but DARKO has him at +2.24 Defensive DPM, 90th percentile for Centers. I'll take a stab, at just the Eastern Conference for now.

Definitely would start (6): ORL (who even is their starting C), CHI (Patrick Williams), ATL (Capela), TOR (...Boucher?!), CHO, WAS (they have no bigs)

Maybe would start (4): CLE, MIA (Highsmith), BKN (Finney-Smith, Claxton), DET (Stewart / Jaden Duren)

Definitely would not start (4): MIL, NYK (if healthy), PHI, IND (with Siakam... they're a maybe if Toppin is still their 4)

Most of the teams he'd start for already have "a poor man's Al Horford, but younger" starting for them.
I guess my main thought was that he was good enough to start on a few other teams.. and that he's basically Walton in 86 equivalent... well below his prime, but still a very important piece to a potentially championship team.
 

benhogan

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Horford is a playoff veteran, plus defender, who shoots 3s at 40% and is paid peanuts.
A very important piece during the regular season when your starting Center is KP, and a key rotational player in the playoffs.

For over half the game, he will credibly guard Alpha 4/5s (Giannis, Joker, Embiid, Bron, etc) on defense & spread the floor on offense (drag opposing 5s away from the rim)

The #1 seed OKC Thunder would love to have Al Horford right about now in their closing lineup

Every NBA team would have Al Horford on their roster (@$10MM) and in their rotation playing ~27mpg.

Picking nits but Bill Walton played 19mpg for the C's then
 

m0ckduck

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What do Horford's minutes look like in a hypothetical Finals matchup with Denver? Can you get 20 creditable non-Horford minutes of defense on Jokic out of the rest of this roster? (edit: obviously Tillman helps here, but I doubt we want him on the floor for more than 10 min in a Finals game). Is it crazy to imagine that CJM would be forced to start a two-bigs lineup? Or is there an adjustment that would make KP-on-Jokic more palatable than it looked last time to the two teams played? I guess we'll find out some answers on Thursday...
 

the moops

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Definitely would start (6): ORL (who even is their starting C), CHI (Patrick Williams), ATL (Capela), TOR (...Boucher?!), CHO, WAS (they have no bigs)

Maybe would start (4): CLE, MIA (Highsmith), BKN (Finney-Smith, Claxton), DET (Stewart / Jaden Duren)
Feel like this is way overrating Horford

Al would most definitely not start over Wendell Carter Jr in Orlando.
Chicago has been starting Derozan at the 4 recently, Al wouldn't start over him - but maybe he would over Vuc
Toronto has gone small, and is playing Barnes at the 4 alongside Poeltl.
Atlanta would likely still start Capela or Okongwu over Al
Charlotte would continue to start Richards at C and Bridges at PF
No chance Al starts over Allen or Mobley.
 

lovegtm

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What do Horford's minutes look like in a hypothetical Finals matchup with Denver? Can you get 20 creditable non-Horford minutes of defense on Jokic out of the rest of this roster? (edit: obviously Tillman helps here, but I doubt we want him on the floor for more than 10 min in a Finals game). Is it crazy to imagine that CJM would be forced to start a two-bigs lineup? Or is there an adjustment that would make KP-on-Jokic more palatable than it looked last time to the two teams played? I guess we'll find out some answers on Thursday...
Jokic also needs to sit some...he'll play 38-40 minutes. So you can match Al with him for 30 of those minutes, and figure out the other 8-10.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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What do Horford's minutes look like in a hypothetical Finals matchup with Denver? Can you get 20 creditable non-Horford minutes of defense on Jokic out of the rest of this roster? (edit: obviously Tillman helps here, but I doubt we want him on the floor for more than 10 min in a Finals game). Is it crazy to imagine that CJM would be forced to start a two-bigs lineup? Or is there an adjustment that would make KP-on-Jokic more palatable than it looked last time to the two teams played? I guess we'll find out some answers on Thursday...
It's going to be an interesting chess match for sure. While KP struggles to guard Jokic, Jokic also struggles to guard KP and when Al is in the game, Jokic guards Al which allows Porter or Gordon to guard KP. (see, e.g., https://www.denverpost.com/2024/01/19/nuggets-celtics-home-record-jamal-murray-nikola-jokic-highlights/).

I know the Cs went with Jrue guarding Jokic for a bit but I don't think they can get away with that too much. (Some of those minutes will also be 2-1-2 with Jrue in the middle.)

Joe is going to throw the kitchen sink at Jokic except I don't think there will be a ton of blitzing as I think the strategy will be to limit what the supporting cast will get. And if they can hold DEN to the 100s, I like the Cs' chances.
 

the moops

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Jokic also needs to sit some...he'll play 38-40 minutes. So you can match Al with him for 30 of those minutes, and figure out the other 8-10.
Last time Denver played in Boston, Jokic played entire 1st quarter, sat for 4 minutes to start the second. Played the rest of the half, then played the entire 3rd quarter too. Sat for the first 6 minutes of the 4th.

I think Al matches up for half of those minutes, and you hope KP can hold his own for the other half
 

Eddie Jurak

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Which players in the league are capable of shutting Embiid down for a 4th quarter in a key playoff game? I mean, which players besides Al? The list is not long.
 

benhogan

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It's going to be an interesting chess match for sure. While KP struggles to guard Jokic, Jokic also struggles to guard KP and when Al is in the game, Jokic guards Al which allows Porter or Gordon to guard KP. (see, e.g., https://www.denverpost.com/2024/01/19/nuggets-celtics-home-record-jamal-murray-nikola-jokic-highlights/).

I know the Cs went with Jrue guarding Jokic for a bit but I don't think they can get away with that too much. (Some of those minutes will also be 2-1-2 with Jrue in the middle.)

Joe is going to throw the kitchen sink at Jokic except I don't think there will be a ton of blitzing as I think the strategy will be to limit what the supporting cast will get. And if they can hold DEN to the 100s, I like the Cs' chances.
Hate to be repetitive, but I posted this yesterday.

Jrue (10) + Horford (26) + Tillman (4) on Joker with KP playing off Gordon. Joker will be great but just a little less so.

For your viewing pleasure:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGOBJgvNCUE


Jrue also guarded KAT earlier this season

Some analysis:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZzfKiWrgfU
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Hate to be repetitive, but I posted this yesterday.

Jrue (10) + Horford (26) + Tillman (4) on Joker with KP playing off Gordon. Joker will be great but just a little less so.
It will be interesting to see which works out better. If you recall, KP started out the DEN game red hot because Jokic struggles to guard on the perimeter. From an offensive standpoint, the Cs want to play the starters as much as possible and then use whomever Jokic is guarding to attack him. It will make him work harder on the defensive end plus maybe get him in foul trouble.

OTOH, on defense, BOS probably wants one of Al / Tillman in and as you said that will make Jokic a little less great on that end. But that allows Jokic to exert less energy on the defensive end.

I'm sure BOS will do both. If one game was a "chess match" that was lauded by technicians everywhere, I think a series would be great to watch. My turn to apologize for being repetitive!
 

benhogan

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It will be interesting to see which works out better. If you recall, KP started out the DEN game red hot because Jokic struggles to guard on the perimeter. From an offensive standpoint, the Cs want to play the starters as much as possible and then use whomever Jokic is guarding to attack him. It will make him work harder on the defensive end plus maybe get him in foul trouble.

OTOH, on defense, BOS probably wants one of Al / Tillman in and as you said that will make Jokic a little less great on that end. But that allows Jokic to exert less energy on the defensive end.

I'm sure BOS will do both. If one game was a "chess match" that was lauded by technicians everywhere, I think a series would be great to watch. My turn to apologize for being repetitive!
100%, I just read that article and Denver is worried about playing Boston's starting 5 since Joker was getting exposed on the perimeter.

I'm bullish on Jrue being a disruptive force on D and ride with him on Joker with KP rim help. Then attack Joker on D
 

lovegtm

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It will be interesting to see which works out better. If you recall, KP started out the DEN game red hot because Jokic struggles to guard on the perimeter. From an offensive standpoint, the Cs want to play the starters as much as possible and then use whomever Jokic is guarding to attack him. It will make him work harder on the defensive end plus maybe get him in foul trouble.

OTOH, on defense, BOS probably wants one of Al / Tillman in and as you said that will make Jokic a little less great on that end. But that allows Jokic to exert less energy on the defensive end.

I'm sure BOS will do both. If one game was a "chess match" that was lauded by technicians everywhere, I think a series would be great to watch. My turn to apologize for being repetitive!
I would love to watch this series. I'm a Nuggets appreciator/fan, and there would be a lot of good stuff going on.
 

m0ckduck

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It will be interesting to see which works out better. If you recall, KP started out the DEN game red hot because Jokic struggles to guard on the perimeter. From an offensive standpoint, the Cs want to play the starters as much as possible and then use whomever Jokic is guarding to attack him. It will make him work harder on the defensive end plus maybe get him in foul trouble.
It's a good point. You can plainly see how the gameplan on offense would be to put KP in pick-and-roll actions with basically anyone who isn't being guarded by Aaron Gordon. WTF are the Nuggets going to do with Jokic switched onto, say, Derrick White and Murray on KP?
 

osori

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Horford is a playoff veteran, plus defender, who shoots 3s at 40% and is paid peanuts.
A very important piece during the regular season when your starting Center is KP, and a key rotational player in the playoffs.

For over half the game, he will credibly guard Alpha 4/5s (Giannis, Joker, Embiid, Bron, etc) on defense & spread the floor on offense (drag opposing 5s away from the rim)

The #1 seed OKC Thunder would love to have Al Horford right about now in their closing lineup

Every NBA team would have Al Horford on their roster (@$10MM) and in their rotation playing ~27mpg.

Picking nits but Bill Walton played 19mpg for the C's then
Pretty much every NBA team would drool to have Al on their roster.

Still can't believe how much value we have been getting with a measly payment of a late FRP (Giddey is not doing so well in OKC) + the corpse of Kemba Walker.
 

m0ckduck

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Still can't believe how much value we have been getting with a measly payment of a late FRP (Giddey is not doing so well in OKC) + the corpse of Kemba Walker.
Giddey wasn't added via the Celtics' pick— OKC got him with their own first (#6). The C's pick (#16) turned into Alperen Sengun, whom OKC traded to Houston for additional draft picks. So, it worked out for all three teams to varying degrees.

One could argue that trading a mid-first for an asset as old and distressed as Horford was actually one of Stevens' more questionable moves— but it worked out wonderfully thanks to Al defying the normal aging curve.
 

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Giddey wasn't added via the Celtics' pick— OKC got him with their own first (#6). The C's pick (#16) turned into Alperen Sengun, whom OKC traded to Houston for additional draft picks. So, it worked out for all three teams to varying degrees.

One could argue that trading a mid-first for an asset as old and distressed as Horford was actually one of Stevens' more questionable moves— but it worked out wonderfully thanks to Al defying the normal aging curve.
You can't forget that Kemba Walker was also part of that trade. When you include him and his salary, it's more like a late 1st/early 2nd rounder for Al.
 

Eddie Jurak

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One could argue that trading a mid-first for an asset as old and distressed as Horford was actually one of Stevens' more questionable moves— but it worked out wonderfully thanks to Al defying the normal aging curve.
It wasn't a straight up deal of a pick for Horford.

[Horford] Traded by the Oklahoma City Thunder with Moses Brown and a 2023 2nd round draft pick (Amari Bailey was later selected) to the Boston Celtics for Kemba Walker, a 2021 1st round draft pick (Alperen Şengün was later selected) and a 2025 2nd round draft pick. 2021 1st-rd pick is BOS own Boston also received a trade exception
Walker had 2 years and $72 million left on his contract and he was a washed up shell of himself as a player (only played another 46 games in the 2 years). Al had 2 years and $53 million left. The first round pick was in exchange for OKC taking on Kemba's corpse moreso than in exchange for Al.

Or, more succinctly:
You can't forget that Kemba Walker was also part of that trade. When you include him and his salary, it's more like a late 1st/early 2nd rounder for Al.
 

lovegtm

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It wasn't a straight up deal of a pick for Horford.



Walker had 2 years and $72 million left on his contract and he was a washed up shell of himself as a player (only played another 46 games in the 2 years). Al had 2 years and $53 million left. The first round pick was in exchange for OKC taking on Kemba's corpse moreso than in exchange for Al.

Or, more succinctly:
Yes. Everyone wanted Al back at the time, but few suspected he'd be this good, this long. The 16th pick was universally accepted as the price of the Kemba salary dump, and many (myself included) thought Al would be cut or traded by the last year of his old deal.
 

Eddie Jurak

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Yes. Everyone wanted Al back at the time, but few suspected he'd be this good, this long. The 16th pick was universally accepted as the price of the Kemba salary dump, and many (myself included) thought Al would be cut or traded by the last year of his old deal.
Al's year in Philly did not go well :) and though he was good in OKC before they shut him down to tank, we expected him to be closer to the end of the line than he was.
 

lovegtm

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Al's year in Philly did not go well :) and though he was good in OKC before they shut him down to tank, we expected him to be closer to the end of the line than he was.
Everyone thought OKC was pulling a Goodhart's Law and gaming the metrics by giving him that much rest.
 

m0ckduck

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You can't forget that Kemba Walker was also part of that trade. When you include him and his salary, it's more like a late 1st/early 2nd rounder for Al.
I shan't forget that. I was just pushing back on the implication that the Horford deal was pure heist for the C's. You could argue that the trade "cost" us Alpert Sengun. I'm not, because (a) Al has been exactly what we've needed the last few seasons, and (b) butterfly effect. But the poster I was replying to basically said, it was all win for us because it only cost us Josh Giddey (untrue) and Josh Giddey sucks (also untrue).
 

osori

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I shan't forget that. I was just pushing back on the implication that the Horford deal was pure heist for the C's. You could argue that the trade "cost" us Alpert Sengun. I'm not, because (a) Al has been exactly what we've needed the last few seasons, and (b) butterfly effect. But the poster I was replying to basically said, it was all win for us because it only cost us Josh Giddey (untrue) and Josh Giddey sucks (also untrue).
Yeah I somehow thought Giddey was the 16th pick and Sengun was the 6th pick. Also I didn't say Giddey sucks, rather that he is not doing so well in OKC right now.
 

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Ergo, Als the reason for our losses. Why did brad ever get this guy. Avg Al...
 

snowmanny

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Al’s third greatest basketball legacy, after his NCAA titles and his future NBA titles, will be all the ways he f’d with Embiid's basketball legacy.
 

The Mort Report

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I was about to ask if there was a better contract, non-rookie non-max, in the sport, but then realized the best one most likely belongs to DWhite. Brad is a frigin ninja. People were afraid to deal with Danny because he always seemed to fleece teams, I wonder if Brad asking about players might give teams pause "wait, what are we missing with this guy?"