Last season, the young core of the Boston Celtics made significant strides towards reaching NBA relevancy. The Green, led by their star Isaiah Thomas and a budding supporting cast consisting of Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, among others, seemed poised for the future. With that said, a disappointing bow out to the Atlanta Hawks in 6 games and it was clear that the Celtics were very very far away. With the roster as constituted, the Celtics were nothing more than a fun, competitive, regular season success story that didn’t have the horses to win in the playoffs. Going into the offseason, it was clear that Danny Ainge needed to pull something off.
And that he did. This past offseason, The Celtics acquired Al Horford on a 4 year/ 113 million dollar deal. Among Celtics fans, I don’t think there was any doubt that Horford would not be the player his contract said he was. His contract said more about the nature of the NBA rather than he as a player. With that said, Horford, a strong fundamental player, with solid court vision, a good midrange game, and rebounding ability was seen as a key building block to this season’s roster and the future of the team. Over the preseason, it was clear that Horford would work seamlessly into Brad Steven’s offense. With the midrange jumper I mentioned above, the pick and roll with Isaiah would be lethal.
Although, fast forward to this season and Horford has yet to make the impact many predicted. Thus far, Horford is averaging twelve and five over twenty nine minutes a game. He’s shooting 28% from three, 66% from the free throw strike, and needless to say, its been a very underwhelming start. “But his impact isn’t truly indicated by the stat sheet! You have to look inside the game to find his true value!” the pundits preach. I beg to differ, I was at the season opener where the Brooklyn Nets, led by Jeremy Lin and the piece of glass known as Brooke Lopez shredded the Celtic Defense through second chance opportunities and poor three point defense. Then, against the Chicago Bulls with the game on the line Horford was left open at the three point line.. Clank!
The Celtics are 3-1 and things are going well. Certainly, the issues the Celtics have had don’t all fall on Horford’s shoulders. But, when Horford returns to the lineup from the concussion protocol and the Celtics play true NBA title contenders, we will see Horford’s true colors and whether he truly was the key offseason addition we all thought he was.