Al Horford missed most of the previous season with a shoulder injury. He rushed back to play a few playoffs games but we didn’t get to see him at full strength. In the off-season he attempted to get the Dominican Republic into the Olympics, but came up short. He played a more dynamic role offensively for that team, but it was unclear how much would translate into the season. As for expectations I think everyone counted on a greater offensive role with Joe Johnson gone and beyond that just to be the same old solid Al.
For the most part Al was back to himself with 17.4 ppg and 10.2 rpg. Some of that production came from a career high in minutes per game at 37.2 which makes it understandable that the rest of his numbers were down slightly from what he produced in years 3 and 4 of his career including turnovers. He wasn’t quite as accurate with the shot and his FT shooting was off by quite a bit. 37 minutes is probably too much for banging in the center position. Consistency stands out for Al as you see fewer horrible games among his season than other players.
Al had some big games like his 34 points and 15 rebounds in a road win at Utah, but the big highlight for me was game 2 of the season at Oklahoma City. With Josh Smith out, Al Horford showed that he could carry the team. He wasn’t the only Hawk to have a good night, but Al shot the ball 19 times making 11 scoring 23, pulled down 12 boards, made 3 assists and got a block and a steal. It was the kind of stat stuffing that Josh was famous for and the Hawks won by 9 on the road.
Barring a big free agent signing Al is the cornerstone of the Hawks for now. It seems likely that he’ll be able to become a 20-10 player if we land a center to allow Al to play PF full time. As a cornerstone you can’t hope for a more solid player even if sometimes you wish he’d be more assertive.