The mind of Al Horford

Can anyone truly claim to know what Hawks center Al Horford is thinking? Maybe those closest to him, but then again, maybe even they do not know how he views himself on the basketball court. Of course, that isn’t going to stop us from assuming, presuming, speculating, and generally pontificating about it.

 

Does Al think he’s a PF or a Center?

The debate that’s been going on nearly since he came into the NBA has been whether or not Al Horford is a power forward or a center.  Many experts and pundits call him an undersized center, but that’s not the same as calling him a power forward. In fact, while many claim Horfod is not playing where he’s supposed to be, they also laud him for doing the job as well as he has. There are so many examples of this, perhaps none any more apparent (and interesting) than Dime Magazine, who  names him to their top ten  in a list that is comprised of who they think was a top 10 center in 2010. Here’s the kicker – the list is not a list of top 10 guys at center in the NBA. It’s a list of the top 10 performers at the position of center in the NBA, college, and high school for the year of 2010. While it may be one man’s (or a group working for a magazine) opinion, it still spells good marks for a guy they turn right around and essentially say is a power forward who  deserves a big raise. Clear as muddy water, huh…

But how does Al see himself?  That question has hardly been asked of  Horford until recently, most notably after this past NBA postseason. The fact is, the man has not had a whole lot to say about it, and none of it seems to be volunteered. Al has done his job on the court , where he embraced the role of starting center and (as we all know) earned a nod to the all-star game.

 

The Evidence

Here’s the funny part, and I have to repeat it - Al hasn’t had all that much to say on the subject, as most of the quotes I can find on it are one-liners or otherwise very short. And in some cases, the information has been so much baseless conjecture that it couldn’t be trusted. When in doubt, always go back to local info, right?

When Hawks beat writer Michael Cunningham caught up with Al, this is what popped out of his mouth, presumably in response to a question:

“I’m fine with [center] but my natural position is obviously the four,” he said.

Cunnginham bumped into “The Boss” again later, and this time a little bit more perspective leaked out:

‘We need to get another big guy, another center, that’s able to help myself and Josh out,” he said. “We need to have someone to come in and have an impact. I think that is the position we need if we want to be any type of contender in the East….I don’t have a problem splitting time [at center], [ Al said]. I played a little four last year with Zaza in the game at the same time and I thought that was good. I know I am going to still play the five….I think we create a lot of problems when have an athletic lineup with Josh at the four, me at the five and Marvin at the three, [ Al said ] I think we create serious problems for people. I think that is one of our strengths as a team is we are so versatile.’ ”

The latest snippet, provided by avid Hawks fans Drmaryb and Astro Joe reveals a tad more perhaps, or not, depending on how you look at it:

“…’That’s what I’ve been all my life,” Horford said about the proposed shift toward PF.’ “ 

Needless to say, this isn’t any and every link I can find on this, so feel free to add anything you please in your posts, especially if it sheds more light on the subject (or anything related). But there we have it in black and white. Now….

 

What Does it Mean? What Conclusions do you draw?

On the one hand, it’s almost like Horford agrees with so many others in that he’s out of position at center. On the other hand, his actions on the court seem to speak louder than any words he or anyone else has spoken or typed. So, let’s ask (and answer) some questions.

1) Does Al truly prefer playing the 4 over the 5?

Well, he has to be happy about making the all-star team while playing at center, but he may feel that he is limited by playing almost exclusively at the position. He may feel that he has more to give, and would be more able to do that at the power forward position. What we haven’t heard as of yet is WHYAl thinks he is a natural power forward, as opposed to center. Unless I’ve missed something, there hasn’t been an opinion on that front from anybody, let alone Horford himself. Most attribute it to a height and weight ratio. As has been proven though, one cannot go on those two measurables alone.

2) Is this “new move” to play him more at PF more driven by Head Coach Larry Drew, or by Al Horford himself?

Keeping in mind that we still don’t quite yet know Larry Drew the Head Coach, I’ll err on the side of this being Drew’s idea. Horford is an unselfish player who doesn’t make demands like some in the League. And yet, I can recall him making comments during the season about providing more if he gets the ball more. Again, not something that seemed selfish to me at all, as Al had a point – the Hawks needed a threat in the post, and outside of Josh Smith (when he wasn’t getting distracted by wide-open 20-foot jumpers), they didn’t have it. My guess is that Larry Drew has wanted Horford more involved in the offense for some time, and now that he’s the head coach, we’re going to see more than the “12 or 13 points” that former coach Mike Woodson wanted out of him. Bottom line: Larry Drew may see more offensive potential in Horford than most, and playing him more at PF as a way to realize that potential.

3) What happens if Al ends up playing more center and less power forward than planned, out of necessity?

Horford has already remarked that he thinks the team presents quite a few matchup problems for opposing teams when he, Josh, and Marvin are in the game at their current respective positions. But he also talks of needing some help in the form of another center. Here’s the good thing, though: those short one-liner answers to the question are frequently met with the assertion that he KNOWS he will be playing center, and does not have a problem with it. I don’t think we need to worry at all about his mindset or how he sees himself position-wise until he starts talking and playing with a similar attitude as  Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudamire (two big-time post players who don’t want anything to do with playing the center position), something I do not expect him to do. Then again, the day he starts putting up numbers anything like theirs while playing as a power forward would be the day the Hawks better get serious about adding a quality player at center who meshes well with Horford (translation: a minimum contract guy that doesn’t get signed until late July or August isn’t going to cut it anymore).

4) Playing more power forward, is this on offense or defense, or both? Where is Josh Smith when this happens?

Again, I’m guessing here. Before answering, I just about have to ask another question- but I’ll get to that in a second. I think it will be Zaza who plays center while Al is at the 4 spot, but that will depend on both offensive and defensive matchups. Larry Drew will probably go about this this the smart way by experimenting in training camp, practice, preseason, and in regular season games, to an extent. In other words, he will try different combinations of Al and somebody else at center, in an effort to create, exploit, and change matchups as the game dictates. Or, he will strike first by trying to dictate to opposing defenses. Either way, it should be interesting. As for the second half of that question, it’s a topic we always seem to try and avoid, but just can’t get away from.

If Al is playing the PF spot, particularly on offense…then Josh Smith can only be at one of three places – center, on the bench, or at (you guessed it) small forward. The former isn’t all that likely, and the latter will most definitely add fuel to a fire that has been burning for a while in blogdome.

5) Who will play center while Horford is playing power forward?

This comes down to matchups, in the end. Matchups on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. There will be times where Al is playing the 4 on offense, but playing the 5 on defense. Or vice versa, perhaps. Against bigger and stronger teams, I’m thinking we will see Pachulia or Collins at the 5. Of course, this also depends on what kind of players the opposing team has at power forward, as Al may or may not have trouble covering some of the quicker power forward types in the league, especially the ones who like to drift out to the perimeter and do their damage there. If he is in the game against a team that features this type of player, he may be better served playing the 5 on defense. Also, don’t be surprised to see Josh Powell get some time at the 5 against certain teams. If the free agent forward can hold his own against some of the less rugged big men, and the matchup is favorable, look for Drew to try this combination.

Ok, Your Turn…

Same five questions. YOUR answers.

 

 

 

296 comments Add your comment

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Atlantan in Brazi

August 8th, 2010
8:51 am

Marcus

August 8th, 2010
9:15 am

There was another early summer interview (on UNIVision) where he said we need a true ‘5′.

Marcus

August 8th, 2010
9:33 am

I think Horford is fine vs. most of the league, but his last experience vs. Dwight and the prospects of seeing the Lakers in a 7-game series (if we had made it that far) is the big fear factor. I think a new guy (either a new acquisition or Powell) will sub for Horfy.

Life time Hawk

August 8th, 2010
9:33 am

Al has said time after time we need a Center and Hawks Management has refused to listen to him. Maybe they will finally get the hint when he does NOT resign with the Hawks! The Hawks management team rivals the Clippers when in comes to indeptness.

Big Ray

August 8th, 2010
9:40 am

Marcus ,

Got the link to that? Post it if you can find it.

Big Ray

August 8th, 2010
9:46 am

Lifetime Hawk

As bad as the Clippers? Come on, man. The Clippers haven’t won the last two years, much less made the playoffs in the last three. On top of that, former coach Mike Woodson was more successful than Mike Dunleavy. As for Al asking for a center time after time, two things:

1) He has to prove he is an even better/more effective player at PF.

2) I don’t recall him saying anything about needing a different guy to start at center in place of him. Ever. Having said that, if he begins talking about playing exclusively at PF, I’d listen closely, were I the Hawks. But as in point #1, he has to prove he can get it done at the all-star level at that position, first.

[...] whether or not Al Horford is a power forward or a center. …See all stories on this topic » Google Alerts – nba Share and [...]

vava74

August 8th, 2010
10:28 am

Al is wrong. His game is not nor fast enough to play against most quality PFs.

His actual advantage is the fact that he is quicker and more agile than most Cs in the league.

That is what made him easily beat the Hibberts of the NBA which body and game is more or less the standard for today’s 7 footers.

The exact same reasoning aplies to Josh, who is also a tweener who is not 100% suited for the PF slot (because he does not have an enforcer/garbage disposal mentality) but is waaaay to slow now to play the SF position (just check how his body changed since the 2007/2008 season into the 2008/2009).

Marvin is another tweener but in the oposite sense. He is fast enough to play the SF slot but his catch and shoot and his driving games are sub par. He is much more effective closer to the basket catching on the move (when not driving and not exactly posting up).

Based on the above, I think Drew’s offense will help extract more out of this particularly unconventional roster.

vava74

August 8th, 2010
10:29 am

Fast nor fluid

amazing

August 8th, 2010
10:48 am

how so many folk know who and what these players can do, but the players themselves dont know this. some people is just know it alls i guess.

niremetal

August 8th, 2010
10:49 am

1) Yes.
2) Both.
3) The same thing that happened last year – we’ll win.
4a) Both.
4b) Probably some time at SF at first, but on the bench as time goes on and Drew realizes that putting Josh out on the perimeter on either end of the floor greatly reduces his effectiveness.
5) Zaza against most, Collins again Orlando, LA, and maybe Milwaukee.

Astro Joe

August 8th, 2010
11:12 am

If Drew moves forward with his plan, it will at least give all involved to “test the theory” without having paid for an expensive center or traded valuable pieces. My assumptions is that Al ould rather win than play a certain position. If Drew emplys “situational match-ups” that keep Al from being wrecked by guys like Howard, Yao, and other larget/stronger centers, then chances are he won’t be angered by playing the 5 against Spencer Hawes or Noah. “More minutes” is all relative… if he plays 5 more minutes at PF this year vs. last year, I think Drew would have delivered against his word and it is doubtful the team will suffer.

One more thing, given the remarkable additions of Collins and Powell, it is also possible that something needed to be said to Horford to address his earlier comments. Plans change… Joe was once told that the Hawks would add pieces around him and in the 6 years as a Hawk, only one free agent was signed for more than $3m/year. Ish happens. Al should be prepared for the reality that our “fleet of centers” may not help this team win.

niremetal

August 8th, 2010
11:26 am

I’m trying to come up with a good naval analogy for our “fleet” of centers. Something about Collins being a converted supertanker in need of repairs. Can’t come up with the rest, though.

MannyT

August 8th, 2010
11:42 am

@nire

THis may help your Naval analogy. Maybe you should have played more games in your youth ;-)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battleship_(game)

D.S.G.B.

August 8th, 2010
12:03 pm

Al said he wanted to have someone to HELP him at center. the truth is he is a proven allstar at center. whether or not he can do better at PF is an assumption. I like him at center, i think he does a fine job. it is just up against the bigger Cs in the league that he has a problem. that is where the help hes talkin about comes to play. if we move Al to PF, we will have to get rid of smoove, because he does not have the skill set to play the 3. This is the lineup that would give teams the most problems.

1=teague/bibby
2=jordan/jamal
3=jj/marvin
4=smoove/powell
5=al/zaza

if teague starts it will be his first experience. i think it would best serve the team in the longrun to let him share that with jordan. they are the future of the hawk’s backcourt and could develop a special bond and chemistry for years to come. teague has already said he likes playing with him. i would have jamal starting, but he is not the future, and i can see a sixth man repeat. imagine with this lineup the depth that we would have. a dynamic, prolific, starting five, plus a very deep bench with consisting of bibby, jamal, and marvin. to be able to have a bench that are legit starters in the league is a luxury we have that we should exploit.

MannyT

August 8th, 2010
12:05 pm

Answered your way, @Big Ray…

1. I think Al prefers no to get mauled by a guy 50 lbs heavier when he is the heaviest guy on the floor for the Hawks. Against most C he is ok, but he’d like to serve some of the bruising that gets dished his way sometimes…thus time at PF.

2. Both. Al wants some of it and LD wants some time @ 4. It gets his bigger guys into the game. That should redude the reliance on jump shots.

3. If it is out of necessity, you do what you have to do to win. As Herm Edwards said, We play to win the game.

4. I personally think of your position as based on your defensive role. On offense, you can put guys where you want to create opportunity. Thus some centers shoot 3 pointers, and some guards post up. When Al is at the PF (on D) Josh’s role will be situational. If we need more slashers, than shooters on offense, Josh can play the 3. If we need the shooters, Josh is on the bench. Defensively, I don’t know that Josh is better suited to defend a SF than Marvin. It depends on the matchup.

5. Yes it is all about the matchup. I think (based on answer 1) you see more Jason & Zaza when Al is at the 4. Powell comes in as a PF, not a C (unless there is lots of foul trouble.) Powell is the new Joe Smith in the rotation. If the 5 need is more offensive, Zaza gets the call. If it is more defensive, Jason gets the call-unless we are playing the Celtics…Zaza has that special, stand in KG’s face energy thing ;-)

but more coming on versatility.

MannyT

August 8th, 2010
12:06 pm

Versatility is the key.

You want to make it hard for other teams. It is all situational.

When we play “regular” it’s

1. JT/Bibby
2. JJ
3. Marvin
4. Josh
5. Al

But we can play small/quick

1. JT
2. Jamal
3. JJ
4. Josh or Marvin
5. Al

Ultra small/quick

1. JT
2. Jamal
3. Mo
4. JJ
5. Al or Josh

or we can move up in size

1. Jamal
2. Joe
3. Josh/Marvin
4. Al
5. Zaza/Jason

or we can go (almost XL)

1. JJ
2. Marvin
3. Josh
4. Al
5. Jason/Zaza

doc

August 8th, 2010
12:07 pm

good stuff ray. jusrt went to 82 games and there is little to go on of horford and zaza together as it was always zaza and josh. i did not see ever that woody put zaza, al and josh together though the unit of al, zaza, mo, jc and jj didnt too bad just very little time together. will come back and answer, family time.

Wink

August 8th, 2010
12:30 pm

1) Does Al truly prefer playing the 4 over the 5? Yes

@vava74 ( Totally agree! )

Al would not necessarily complain, he is a team first player. His body type suggest he is a PF, of which he may agree with. The team needs him to play Center, which he earned a trip to All Star game as a Center. As a result he would rather play Center than sit on the bench behind Josh. He has a quickness advantage at Center, which aids his offense and he is at a disadvantage on the defense, mostly because of body type.

2) Is this “new move” to play him more at PF more driven by Head Coach Larry Drew, or by Al Horford himself?

I would say Head Coach Larry Drew. Since the ASG is standing pat with the same team then we must get more out of our current players. I sure this was part of Drew’s pitch when interviewing for the Head Coach position. Since Woody was unable to make adjustments, Larry will try to get Horford on the move, with Josh to create separation from the opposing center, using Horford speed & agility.

3) What happens if Al ends up playing more center and less power forward than planned, out of necessity?

He will maintain his advantage over the opposing centers, speed. If Al play more against the opposing PF’s he would lose this advantage. Then we will have the reverse speed effect, as Horford would become the slower player the majority of time on offense, as his moves to basket would not be that fluid, but he would gain an equal or greater advantage on defense near the basket and somewhat a liability on the perimeter, reducing our ability to rebound the basketball.

4) Playing more power forward, is this on offense or defense, or both? Where is Josh Smith when this happens?

First, PF would be okay on defense, especially if Collins or ZaZa are on the floor. Josh would have to be on the bench. Going to Al on offense I would prefer it be against a Center, if we can get that match up or him filling a lane. At this time Josh should be on the floor.

5) Who will play center while Horford is playing power forward?

This has to be ZaZa. Collins should be used based on match ups or foul trouble.

Based on the following scenario who would you choose as your power forward? You are playing Boston (Shaq/Jermaine O’neal), Orlando (Dwight/Gotat), Bucks (Bogot) and…

You have the following choices to START at Center & PF:

Brook Lopez, Tyson Chandler, Al Horford, Josh Powell, ZaZa, Josh Smith, Okafor?

Who would you choose as to START at Center & PF?

The only All Star is Horford, but who would you choose?

Jody

August 8th, 2010
1:43 pm

I think too much is made of what a guy can or can’t (presumably) do. I think the focus should be more on what certain combinations could possibly do next season to help the teams in areas of weakness. Judging from the fact that the Hawks got outrebounded by +10 every game in the second round and one guy shot over 84% from the field against them in the paint (not to mention what the rest of the team did), I’d say it’s probably a good idea to play bigger lineups featuring Al at the 4 more. Sticking with the same thing will most likely result in the same outcome no matter what’s done to improve the offense.

Big Ump

August 8th, 2010
2:37 pm

Astro Joe:

I was blogging with drmaryb who I think the World of was telling me that you were playing with the group Shalamar back in the days. What years were you with them? I’m quite sure you and I have met in the past.
I still do somesome work part time with Goldkey Entertainment Inc. which is owned by Charles Geer. Charles were the Regional Promotion Directory for Atlantic Records for 25 years before he retired. We gave Charles a big Tribute at Backstage Lounge which is owne by Frankie Beverly and his manager Joe the week before the 4th of July. By the waywhat Jody Whatley doing now? Is she oversea performing? That’s where the big money is for us old school musicans.

Big Ray.

I’m sorry to to tie your blog down with something that is not releated to b ball. If you could give me a warning instead of a ticket I will appreciate it(smile). Keep up the good work Big Ray. You the man.

Big Ray

August 8th, 2010
2:47 pm

Jody ,

I agree that this is something the Hawks need to look at when analyzing how they did against the type of teams they’ve faced in the second round of the playoffs.

Big Ump ,

No worries, man. We go off subject all the time. Besides, we’re experiencing a momentary break from canniblogging. Let’s see how long it lasts…. ;)

Astro Joe

August 8th, 2010
2:48 pm

Big Ump, no, Dr. Mary got it wrong. I was a FAN of Shalamar, even had one of their songs playing in the background when I fell on my knee and popped the big question. But that’s the extent of my Shalamar experience. That, and of course, that they were a “production” of Love, Peace and Sooouuulllllll! Dr. Mary and I were going back and forth one evening about music of that time. She may have been working on her 4th glass of vino at the time. I sing about as well as Rockwell.

Big Ray

August 8th, 2010
2:57 pm

Vava ,

Personally, I’d say he was wrong if he was insisting on playing a position that he is consistently unsuccessful in. But he’s not. The time of the traditional 7-footer is kind of gone, as some others have said. There are so few effective, much less dominant types, though I don’t know that Roy Hibbert is what I’d call the standard for that body type these days. I see Horford as a hybrid that is prominent – the PF/C. The guy who can play both situationally, and can succeed doing it. Glad to have him. Better yet, I’m glad to have him and his great attitude. Because of all the PF/C hybrid types, he has some of the best intangibles and the best chance of success. Attitude alone can hold you back (Amare Stoudamire).

The Real Hawk

August 8th, 2010
2:59 pm

We all know the Hawks screwed the pooch by not getting a center in the off season. All because of money. Another year of nothing long lasting in the playoff. And at a lower seed.

Big Ray

August 8th, 2010
3:04 pm

D.S.G.B. ,

Yep, Al asked for help. Never once did he say anything about being replaced, and seems to continue to embrace his role and position. I’m sure this will come back up again, though, and it will depend laregly on how the Hawks do against the better teams in the league, particularly in the playoffs.

As for Teague and Crawford…hmmmmm. I don’t know how soon you could expect to see such a combo in the backcourt. Teague will get his minutes (more than last season for certain) as long as he produces. Jordan Crawford may have a tough time getting on the court as long as JJ and Jamal are around. I think Jamal will be here for the remainder of his contract, and it’s anybody’s guess after that. Jordan may find himself doing this year what Teague was doing last year . Namely, playing sporadically and getting DNPs here and there. In fact, I don’t know if he even gets that far. Is he talented? Oh yes. His defense will have to pick up first, however.

Two things could see Jordan Crawford get some “significant” minutes this coming season – Injuries and well…injuries. Oh, and Joe Johnson playing a lot of time at SF. Hope the former doesn’t happen, and don’t count on the latter influencing the young fella’s minutes, though.

Big Ray

August 8th, 2010
3:14 pm

Wink ,

Where you been? Good answers! A couple more questions. How do we really know Al likes playing PF more, when he has hardly played at that spot since coming into the league? Also, why do you prefer Al match up on offense against opposing centers, rather than power forwards? I understand the speed advantage, but are opposing PFs good enough to stop him? Just picking your brain.

Loved the parting questions you had. Right now I’d still have to go with Al and Josh as my combo. Reasoning is that I’m still not sold on Brook Lopez (especially defensively), Chandler can’t stay healthy and is nearly useless on offense (when he’s not getting served the ball by a good pg), Zaza & Powell are clearly backups, and Okafor…well, he’s not as good as Al.

Now would I like to be able to experiment with different combinations of Horford/Lopez/Smith…. maybe even Chandler and Okafor, just to be certain? Heck yes. But that wasn’t the question, was it? :)

Side note: though Lopez is more “traditionally” center sized, I never saw where he was able to “best” Horford. Both guys are young and growing. Lopez has the better stats, but he should, as the focal point of an anemic and disjointed offense. Meanwhile, Horford put up borderline double-double numbers and made the all-star squad while playing for a 53-win team. ‘Nuff said…

Big Ray

August 8th, 2010
3:16 pm

Doc

Thanks. I think we will see several more lineup combos under Larry Drew than we ever did with Mike Woodson. When that is (I’m guessing preseason) and whether it ultimately means more wins and a better team remains to be seen.

Big Ray

August 8th, 2010
3:19 pm

MannyT ,

Great answers, especially about positions being based on defensive roles.

I agree that Powell comes into the game as a PF. But I also think there will be situations where he plays the 5, and they are the same conclusion you came to with an added detail or two: Foul trouble, small lineup, and ineffective play by Marvin Williams, along with a need for a rebounder (let’s hope he turns out to be an avid fan of glass work).

JJ

August 8th, 2010
3:28 pm

lol i thought MR.Joe “Max Money” Johnson was gonna be recruiting players to come play for the hawks?

Astro Joe

August 8th, 2010
3:52 pm

JJ, go and try to convinc your best friend to take a 50% pay cut to come and work with you and let me know when he stops laughing.

O'Brien

August 8th, 2010
3:52 pm

1) Al prefers the 4.
2) shared by Drew and Al
3) As long as the team is winning, I think Al will not have a problem playing more center

4) More PF on offense (Josh Smith on the bench)

5) ZaZa will play more C (Collins too, depending on his shape), with Al at PF.

Wink

August 8th, 2010
4:50 pm

Big Ray

I only check in occasionally, but I have been checking out some of the post during this slow off season.

I really think Horford would prefer PF, just based on his request for help in the post. He has really given all he’s got, but he is undersized and takes a beating. Even Kurt Thomas made him look small and somewhat rag doll like in the post. His success at Center could be his fools gold, when he put time in at the PF. Short answer, offensive skills against Centers may not translate to success at PF. Of course with the Hawks, he plays Center out of necessity, so until we get a legimate Center to demand attention we will never know. Thus, the question regarding if you had a choice, would you still put him at Center.

The reason I believe he would not be successful at PF offensively, is because his moves are a bit robotic & slow to exercute. The separation on the moves would be against more mobile athelete, with more lateral movement & jumping ability, say Amare, who is not a standout defensive player,but would give him trouble. Same with players like Bosh, Boozer, Big Baby, Milsap, Brandon Bass, Beasley, as mentioned players with a Kurt Thomas attitude with agility; I believe the match up would go 50/50, the equilvalent of a Josh Smith 3 point attempt… just kidding, but you get my drift.

Now given the choices I gave you, you are playing against Boston, Orlando, Milwaukee, you tell me you would stand pat just as the ASG & Sund have done this summer, with all the talented bigs that have found there way into the Eastern Conference???

Come on Big Ray …. because we won 53 games…but those teams have shown they have the potential to send us home come playoff time, you would still START Al & Josh, with those choices available to you!!

MannyT

August 8th, 2010
4:58 pm

I think JJ has been recruiting. Given the Hawks’ desire to stay below the luxury tax, he and his agent talk to all the guys in their agency that will take a minimum contract ;-)

O'Brien

August 8th, 2010
5:12 pm

I posted this on MC’s blog, but its more applicable over here.

IMO, there is nothing wrong with having a preference, so the Hawks need to be careful.

For example, picture a high school student who plays both football and baseball. He is a better prospect at football, and that is what he is being recruited for by big time college football programs.

However, he chooses the college that will allow him to play baseball, because that is his first love.

Regardless of what fans think, or what the Hawks think, I think it is in their best interest to give Al more minutes at PF (like Drew has said).

The last thing the Hawks want, is for the team to struggle in Drew’s system, and then watch Al bolt in free agency for a team who promises to let him play PF full time.

Granted, he will be restricted, but you still never know.

niremetal

August 8th, 2010
5:17 pm

The last thing the Hawks want, is for the team to struggle in Drew’s system, and then watch Al bolt in free agency for a team who promises to let him play PF full time.

I’d rather the Hawks win and Horford be frustrated (because he thinks he is out of position) than have the Hawks lose and have Horford be frustrated (because the team is losing).

Al Horford is one of the 5 best centers in the NBA and he is playing alongside one of the 7-10 best power forwards. He needs to get that our team is strongest with him at center and Josh at PF than with anyone else at center and him at PF.

niremetal

August 8th, 2010
5:20 pm

And Horford isn’t going anywhere unless the Hawks let him due to his restricted status. Something tells me he won’t be talking his qualifying offer when he can get a huge contract right away.

In my view, putting Horford at PF is the worst of both worlds: Al will probably put up better stats while the team as a whole gets weaker. Thus, Al’s price tag will go up and the team won’t even have a better record to show for it. Because I just don’t see how we improve on the C/PF combo we have right now. LA is the only team that has one better.

Astro Joe

August 8th, 2010
5:37 pm

nire, two words… Ben Gordon.

Sautee

August 8th, 2010
6:02 pm

AJ,

From the last blog: Yes I was talking about Woodson’s extension as well. After seeing his lack of coaching acumen exposed in the Boston series, I would not have re-upped. That’s why I mentioned Sund perhaps feeling on thin ice due to Knight’s inability to get the ASG to pull the trigger.

And do you think Ben Gordon is HAPPY that he’s no longer with the Bulls?

Maybe, I guess if money means everything. But I’d guess no.

Jody

August 8th, 2010
6:19 pm

I liken Al’s situation to Joe Johnson’s situation. When Joe came to the Hawks, he was asked to play the point guard position. Did he do well there? Reasonabley speaking, yes. Did he put up good numbers there? Yes. Did that make his natural position point guard simply because he had the ability to play there? No. Was he more comfortable at the two (his natural spot) than the one? Yes.

I think Al is in the same situation. Sure he has the ability to play the center position, but that’s obviously not where’s he’s most comfortable and he appears to be very confident that he could be more effective if he played more power forward (not necessarily exclusively). I happen to believe him over what anybody else says because he actually PLAYS the game and has a very high basketball I.Q. It’s very presumptous to assume that neither he or the team would be more effective if he played more at the 4. We’re yet to see him play predominately at the 4 thus far, but at Florida, he did (alongside Noah and Richard) and that was obviously very successful. I happen to think that Horford made the All-Star team at center because he’s a REALLY GOOD player, not because he’s a true center. If put in the same situation, I’m sure guys like Chris Webber, Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett and others were talented enough to have made the All-Star team playing center. Would that have meant that there best or true position is the 5. No.

newkid

August 8th, 2010
7:07 pm

Apart from the Hawks, how many NBA teams would consistently play Al at the 5? Who are they, and what chances would they have at winning the O’Brien with Al at 5?

In college, Al was a champion; doubtlessly he badly wishes to be an NBA champion as well. But he’s also a ‘team first’ player, so he won’t grumble much about his desire to consistently play the 4 while intermittantly playing the 5. He’s a winner, not a whiner: and winners deserve winners. He deserves to play for ownership and management with a strongly demonstrated commitment to assembling the pieces truly capable of winning the O’Brien (as opposed to those who continue to be giddy at the prospect of winning 50 regular season games and getting TO round 2). Would love to see him stay and play in Atlanta for years to come, but wish him the very best if he wisely decides next year to take the qualifying, then bolt for a side that sees the season as a failure if it doesn’t raise the O’Brien in mid to late June.

Players with mediocre aspirations deserve owners and management who demonstrate mediocre goals and like financial capacity. Al’s aspirations and commitment to winning go well beyond the mediocre, and I hope he finds an ideal location to realize his potential at 4 while simultaneously becoming an indispensible gear in a locomotive that rumbles down the track toward multiple O’Briens.

Astro Joe

August 8th, 2010
7:40 pm

Sautee, if Gordon feels like the Bulls didn’t “treat him right”, then he probably feels very little if any regret. Now, he may have some huge regret about signing with the Pistons, but the first step was leaving the Bulls. Bringing it back to Al, IMO, I could care less which other team he signs with, I’d just be ticked off if he leaves the Hawks.

IMO, the Hawks need to decide quick and fast if Al is employee #15 or a franchise player. It almost feels like they have a generic definition of “the core”. At some point, they will have to differentiate between the core and the franchise player(s). You don’t wait to sweet talk franchise player(s) during a contract year and expect them to stay happy.

Al writes many of his tweets in Spanish first and then translates them into English. I love that about him… he embraces his heritage first even when that may not be the most lucrative decision. What if there is a voice whispering in his ear to go and play for a city with a larger Spanish-speaking population? Heck, maybe it’s something else that could drive him out of Atlanta, something less noble than becoming a Latino icon for the NBA. Should the Hawks tempt fate by treating him like employee #15 now and then trying to make things right later?

Sautee, back to the last blog, honestly, I’m not smart enough to know if the coach of the #8 seeded team is not making adjustments against a 60+ win team or if those adjustments simply aren’t working. But considering that the Celtics led at least 2 road games by at least 10 points before the Hawks fought back to win, my guess is that some adjustment was made.

Astro Joe

August 8th, 2010
7:42 pm

newkid, well said.

niremetal

August 8th, 2010
8:26 pm

Astro,

The Bulls weren’t interested in signing Gordon to a long-term deal like the one he could get on the free agent market. Report after report during the summer of ‘08 indicated that the Bulls were not high on Gordon and were just not willing to give Gordon the offer he wanted. It wasn’t as if they were making him anything close to a max offer or even viewed him as an essential part of their core after the drafting of Rose.

The Bulls basically let Gordon go, and everyone and his mother thought about it that way. Something tells me the Hawks will be making a much more substantial offer to Horford next summer (after the new CBA is signed, of course).

Melvin

August 8th, 2010
8:47 pm

Didn’t Gordon turn down like a 50 million dollar contract from the Bulls prior to playing his final season in Chicago…

Melvin

August 8th, 2010
8:50 pm

Okay I look it up. In the link below, it mention Gordon rejected a contract offer from the Bulls….

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4301111

Big Ray

August 8th, 2010
8:51 pm

Wink ,

Didn’t I say I’d like to experiment with the other choices given me? But let’s talk about this for a second…

Tell me this: where have those other guys taken their teams, and how have they fared in the playoffs against the likes of Boston, Orlando, or similar competition?

Tyson Chandler hasn’t done squat since ‘07-’08. I’d rather have a guy who can play more than 40-50 games per season, and one who can show up for the playoffs. Horford has career playoff averages of 11.5 rebounds and 8.3 rebounds. You want to replace that with Chandler’s career playoff averages of 6.4 points and 7.5 rebounds? Or maybe you like that better than Josh Smith’s career playoff averages of 15.6 points and 7.8 rebounds (not to mention 2 blocks and 2.5 assists)?

How about Okafor? His career regular season averages are slightly better than Horford’s (Okafor sits at 13.3 ppg, 10.3 rpg), (Horford is at 12.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg), despite the fact that Okafor has been in the league twice as long as he has.

And the playoffs? Wait a minute…Okafor has never been to the playoffs. Huh. Okay, so you disagree, which is cool. Now who would you start out of the choices you gave me? And tell me why….

No, I am NOT happy that the ASG and sund have stood pat. I think they could have done better. But those guys you mentioned don’t guarantee us anything at all, and we’d have to give up Al or Josh most likely, to get either one of them. Or, we’d have to go well into luxury tax territory. One more thing to think about….Chandler and Okafor apparently weren’t overly impressing their teams at some point in time…because they got traded for each other. Results? Well, just read the stats.

Big Ray

August 8th, 2010
8:52 pm

Melvin ,

Yep. Bulls offered Gordon $50 million. He turned it down. Like a fool.