Al Horford has always been thought of a very effective and almost dominant rebounder throughout his career. In each of his first 3 seasons, Horford has always averaged 9+ rebounds per game, with a career high of 9.9 rpg last season. However, as of late, I've noticed a disheartening trend in his rebounding statistics. Currently, Horford is averaging less than 9 rebounds per game (8.83 to be exact). This is very unusual for Horford, and considering the fact that the Hawks are typically stressing rebounding, this is definitely a problem. Even more cause for concern is the following statistic. In his last 5 games, Horford is only averaging 7.0 rebounds per contest.
Needless to say, it would hurt the team to have their All-star center, and most effective rebounder over the last 3 seasons, decline in production in a key area, an area which holds one of his best skills. In their most recent game, the Hawks, collectively, were out-rebounded 42-30. Although, this has been a recurring issue for the team, it was never much of an issue on Horford's part. These are not encouraging signs, when you keep in mind that the Hawks, although winning, have had to rely very highly on hot shooting to close out games, because many opponents are forcing them into one-and-done situations. The Hawks are 5-1 on the road, but this is attributable mostly to the fact that their offense has been very potent in those games and the Hawks have out-shot all of their opponents in each of those 6 contests.
Perhaps the team will correct the rebounding issues collectively, but still, is Horford's steady decline in rebounding reason to worry? Perhaps it is too early in the season, to be discussing such matters, but let's ponder some possible causes for this decline in Al's recent board work.
Throughout this young season, many of us have noticed a trend in which Head Coach, Larry Drew, elects to sit Horford early in the first half when he picks up more than 1 foul. This has resulted in Horford playing some spotty minutes and sitting out entire second quarters on numerous occasions. Drew has mentioned that this is not always his intent (to bench Horford for the first half when he picks up two fouls early), yet his actions speak otherwise. At any rate, this has resulted in Horford playing less than 30 minutes often, and perhaps it is the lack of rhythm that has caused Horford's rebounding to decline. Another possible explanation that I have come across while scanning Hawks blogs in cyberland is attributable to the idea that Horford may be playing less aggressively in fear that he may pick up quick fouls and be taken out of the game.Obviously, these ideas may be prematurely-developed, but they are not insane to consider.
Regardless of what the issue has been, we need Al to play strong on the glass night-in and night-out to give the Hawks a legitimate shot at winning every game, particularly, when the team's shots aren't falling. Hopefully, Horford will pick up his energy and intensity on the glass soon.