Al Horford is the cornerstone of the Atlanta Hawks. Since he was drafted with the third pick of the 2007 Draft, he has generally epitomized efficiency and reliability. He’s often been overshadowed by flashier players during his time as a Hawk, as players like Josh Smith, Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford frequently stole the limelight away from him, yet if you were offered one of those four guys to build a team around, the only logical choice would be Horford.
The 27-year-old Dominican isn’t necessarily the most vocal player, but leads the team with his play instead of his mouth. Entering into a season where Atlanta had a very young squad, a new coach, and a completely different philosophy of playing, it was clear that Horford’s steady head would be vital for the team’s chances of success.
It all started so well too. When Horford tore his right pectoral muscle against the Cleveland Cavaliers on December 26, the Hawks sat third in the Eastern Conference, three games above .500, and 2.5 games ahead of the fourth placed Charlotte Bobcats. The Hawks were playing an exciting new brand of basketball, with Horford and Paul Millsap meshing together beautifully, and Jeff Teague playing like a breakout All-Star. It’s a testament to Atlanta’s character that they held on at all following the loss of Horford, but they just weren’t the same team.
Although he only played 29 games, Horford still left his mark on this season. He also showed improvements that Hawks fans will hope carry over after his return from injury. Let’s take a closer look at Horford’s season.