Many NBA stars play with flash and flare. Some do not. John Havlicek was one such player, no flash - much substance. Al Horford is another. Al doesn't call attention to himself, a pretty good accomplishment considering his 6'10" height. But he can't play the invisible man any longer. He is just playing too well.
I thought NBA players peaked at the age of 26 to 28. Horford seems to be peaking right now at age 31. Like Kyrie Irving, most of Al's stats this season are very similar to his career stats. But he has become a defensive demon. He is running and switching like a 6-03 guard. He is everywhere. And now looking at the stats, the biggest change is in his three-pointers. Here is ESPN's Chris Forsberg on Horford's defense:
Earlier this week, after a stretch of games in which Celtics big man Al Horford had bottled up the likes of Kristaps Porzingis, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, Boston coach Brad Stevens wanted to put the spotlight on a player who would never request it for himself.
"A lot of names get thrown around, rightfully so, in the defensive talk around the league. There's a lot of really good defenders, but Al's up there and doesn't always get mentioned, and that's OK with Al," Stevens said after Tuesday's win over the New York Knicks. "I think that he's kind of proven that he's OK with just contributing to winning and whether he gets talked about or not. But he was great on Simmons on Friday [and] he was unbelievable [Tuesday] on Porzingis."
In 11 games this season he is shooting 18/38 on threes, a 47.4% rate. For his career, he has shot 213/601 at a 35.4% rate. If he keeps launching threes at this rate, he will have attempted 134 by the end of the season. That is well over double the three-pointers that he has attempted in his entire career.
Why is Al's game peaking now at age 31? It starts with Brad Stevens. Brad puts players in situations that enhance their skills. Horford now thrives in the power forward spot. Also, Al simply adapts to the situation in which he is placed. He adapted amazingly to this change.
Al Horford's career-best streak of 8 straight made 3's (Nov. 3-6) is the longest by a BOS player since Ray Allen (8-Nov. 2010)@EliasSports
Last night against his former team, the Atlanta Hawks, Horford came close to a triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Tremendous defender, ace three-point shooter, triple-double threat, wonderful team mate, great individual! Getting pretty damn hard not to notice him.