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ESPN's Haberstroh: Al Horford is great. Too bad nobody notices.


Well, we do, Tom. Really. Seriously, it's like we're obsessed.

Count Haberstroh among our tribe, the one who knows how effective Al is and pines for the coaches, his teammates, and even Al himself to embrace it.

Says Haberstroh (Insider req):

While Horford has seen more touches this season under new head coach Larry Drew, it's puzzling why he doesn't get even more. Horford's usage rate -- the estimated percentage of team possessions used by a particular player while on the floor -- has climbed from 17.6 percent in 2009-10 to 20.4 percent this season, which is a welcomed boost but still not commensurate with his scoring talents. He's still very much a fourth option on offense, and there's good reason why he demands a higher spot in the pecking order.

Nice to see one of the industries rising voices attaching himself to the cause of raising the unassuming Horford up as one of the elite players in the league though, as we've noted endlessly in this space, Larry Drew doesn't feel that way about him.

There was a time where some folks thought that, should Horford actually get more touches and possessions, then his efficiency would decrease.


If you watch Horford play, you can see why he's able to maintain his lofty efficiency. What sets Horford apart from other league big men is his rare ability to put the ball on the floor and create offense away from the block. That diversifies his attack and keeps the defense guessing. Skill-wise, Horford has no problems starting out on the perimeter from the triple-threat position and crossing up his defender off the dribble en route to the basket. According to Synergy data, 70 players in the league -- big and small -- have made at least 70 isolation plays this season. Take a guess how many of those players have a higher efficiency than Horford's 1.1 points per isolation play. Three -- Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Martin and Chauncey Billups. That's it.

Horford is an absolute nightmare for opposing big men to defend out on the perimeter because he can blow by if them if they play too close. But play too far off and he'll happily drill a jumper. So far this season, Horford has nailed 58 percent of his long-2-point attempts (from 16-23 feet) this season, which is hands-down the best conversion rate in the league, according to Nowitzki? 53 percent. Kevin Garnett? 48 percent. Kevin Durant? 41 percent. Horford has them all beat.

The Horford Treatment, the lack of fourth quarter touches, the perception that crunch time should be exclusive to Joe Johnson or Jamal Crawford should be retired by now, but none of it is. It's alive and well, but hopefully the more Al goes mainstream in national spaces such as and, oh I don't know, the All-Star game, maybe the Hawks will wake up and build around Al instead of treating him like he's an offensive afterthought.