One of the big takeaways from Wednesday's loss to Detroit was Al Horford's shooting, or lack thereof.
12th time Horford has played 32+ minutes and taken 5 or less shots. First time since 2011. Record in those games is 4-8. Per @bball_ref.— James Toscano (@Jimmy_Toscano) December 1, 2016
Stevens said first thing he noticed in box score was the five shot attempts for Horford. Said they need to get him more shots.— James Toscano (@Jimmy_Toscano) December 1, 2016
Crowder called Horford getting just five shots "unacceptable." Horford pointed out Pistons doubled him down low and switched pick-and-pops.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 1, 2016
To be clear, Crowder wasn't criticizing Horford. Put the onus on the Celtics to help the big man find better positions to score.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 1, 2016
One way to help Horford find better positions to score as well as alleviate the issue of double teams is to put another big out there that opposing defenses have to worry about. Teams aren't worried about what Amir Johnson is going to do to them, even if he does occasionally go bananas.
Though my colleague Justin Quinn disagrees, the answer is Kelly Olynyk. Putting Olynyk next to Horford means opposing teams now have to worry about two bigs who shoot from long range. Against the Pistons, Olynyk scored 19 points in 26 minutes, shooting 3-4 from downtown. It is true that Olynyk hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire at the start of his contract year, but he has shown flashes and has the ability to be a real thorn in the opponent's side. This also doesn't help with Boston's rebounding woes, but Johnson hasn't been much of a beast on the boards himself.
If not Olynyk, then Danny Ainge needs to go out and find a big on the market that will help take some of the focus off of Horford. And no, Nerlens Noel is not the answer.
This does not let Horford off the hook, however, and isn't a knee-jerk reaction to one game. Horford should be averaging much more than 14 ppg. He's only taken 20 shots in one game this season, where he scored 20 points, and his season high after that is 13 shots. Yes, a big part of Horford's value is his versatility and passing ability, but he simply needs to shoot more as one of the best players on the team. At least 20 ppg shouldn't be too much to ask. While he's never achieved that mark in his career, his best scoring season was 2013-14 when he put in 18.6 ppg, and isn't a pure scorer, it should not be that difficult given Boston's playstyle. He has the ability to do it.
It's time for Horford to be a little more selfish, to look for his own shot, and having a scoring big next to him certainly wouldn't hurt.
Photo credit: Bob DeChiara, USA TODAY Sports
Stats via ESPN
@ericblaisdell13 Eric Blaisdell 12/01/2016 06:52:00 PM Tweet Edit