Atlanta Hawks: Five questions with Al Horford as regular season begins

Vivlamore reporting prior to this morning’s shoot-around as the regular season opens against the Rockets.

Here is a Q and A I did with center Al Horford.

Q. How are you health-wise? Do you have any trepidation going into the season (coming off torn pectoral muscle)?

A. I feel good. One of the things I tried to do this summer was get my strength back to help the team. Physically, I feel good. I’m excited about the year.

Q. I know each player met with coach Drew to discuss their role on the team. What did he say would be your role this year?

A. With me, it’s very basic. I feel like I know my role here and it’s to come out and be a presence inside on defense, and on offense as well. Being able to rebound, set screens, know when to pass the ball, know when to shoot the ball. I’m just trying to win. That’s the way I play. Our discussion was about that. Just making sure that we know what he expects from us.

Q. This is a different team this year in that you are smaller at the 2 and 3 positions. With an emphasis on help defense, how does that affect you as the one in the middle, the last line of defense?

A. We have a challenge. We have to be realistic. We know that I am a smaller center, more of a power forward being realistic. Our guys are smaller on the perimeter. Our whole thing this year is on team defense. We can’t get caught up in individual matchups. We have to do it as a unit. We have to help each other in order for us to be successful on defense. We know we can score the ball. We need to be able to do that. We are not going to leave anybody stranded out on an island in a mismatch. We are going to do it collectively.

Q. Do you prefer to play power forward instead of center?

A. It just depends but I’m comfortable playing both. Me and Josh have played together, this is our sixth year together, so I feel comfortable playing with him. I feel comfortable playing with Zaza (Pachulia). When I’m facing a much bigger guy than me, obviously I would prefer Zaza come in and take some weight off of me, at least for a while. But I’m comfortable playing both positions.

Q. Last year when Rick Sund was the general manager, he was insistent on having three centers on the roster. It ended up that you needed four centers. Are you comfortable where the team is going into the season at the center position?

A. I think that is a point that we need to address. I’m sure that team management is looking at our roster. I do agree that we need a certain amount of centers with big bodies to be successful. Right now, (Johan) Petro is behind (with a sore back) and we don’t know when we can count on him. So, yes, I’m sure team management is looking into probably getting another big body to help us.

- Chris Vivlamore

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Follow me on Twitter at ajchawks

56 comments Add your comment

Astro Joe

November 2nd, 2012
9:35 am

Astro Joe

November 2nd, 2012
9:41 am

With fewer than 5 truly dominant low post performers in the league, these comments seem out of place. But Horford didn’t perform in the games against the Celtics like he was looking for someone to help him down low. Let’s hope that his play continues to counter the attitudes he expouses above.

vava74

November 2nd, 2012
9:45 am

Horford’s words are an invitation to be punked.

He should have said: size does not matter, its the heart that makes the C and I am ready to go against anyone.

He has lost the mental battle even before the tip off.

KCG

November 2nd, 2012
9:53 am

Al will be fin, the most steady and consitent player the Hawks have. He’s the least of our problems.

KCG

November 2nd, 2012
9:54 am

Oops, meant to say fine.

Ken Strickland

November 2nd, 2012
9:55 am

vava74

November 2nd, 2012
10:09 am

Peachtree hoops:

http://www.peachtreehoops.com/2012/11/1/3583096/atlanta-hawks-season-preview-series-al-horford-frontcourt

Vast array of post moves (when assessing Horford) kind of made me blink my eyes in disbelief, but there some very nice stats there.

In particular on Ivan’s D.

O'Brien

November 2nd, 2012
10:10 am

FTPB,

Najeh,

Nash is used to having the ball in his hands as long as he wants, but with Kobe and Dwight needing the ball, it will definitely take some time. I’m not sure the Princeton offense is the best choice for them though.

MsDee,

Assuming the Hawks resign Josh, we would not have the space to sign D12 and CP3 (a sign and trade would also be difficult).

O'Brien

November 2nd, 2012
10:16 am

First of all, let me say I am a fan of Horford. That being said…

When I’m facing a much bigger guy than me, obviously I would prefer Zaza come in and take some weight off of me, at least for a while.

He should not have said that. It just makes him sound soft.

Slimjr

November 2nd, 2012
10:19 am

“The Hawks had an extended practice session Wednesday including individual meetings with Larry Drew for each player to discuss roles, and a lot of work at the defensive end of the floor.

The Hawks took to the practice floor for an extended session Wednesday as they prepare for their opener against the Rockets Friday night. Johan Petro (back) sat practice out once again and it appears that he is a lock to be one of the Hawks left off the 12-man game day active roster. The rest of the team participated fully in a full contact practice where the emphasis was on tightening up their defensive sets.

“[We were] brushing up on stuff that we’re going to use as a staple all year, particularly defensively,” said Larry Drew. “Defensively, we [went a little harder]. We did push it because we covered a lot with the defense as far as some of the schemes and techniques we will have. Offensively, the focus was pace.”

Drew also met with players before practice to talk with them about their roles with the team and his expectations for them.

“I met with each player individually this morning to explain roles on the team. I really wanted to wait before we got our roster down before I did that,” said Drew. “I met with each and every guy individually and had a good dialogue about what I expected from them and it went very well.”

Anthony Tolliver and Jeff Teague talked briefly after practice and discussed a little of what coach told them about what he wants to see out of them, while not giving away anything about rotation.

“He told me to just be Jeff Teague. Same thing he told me last year, I’m just gonna go out there and play my game and do what he asks,” said Teague. “He just told me to be me, I’ve been me for the last couple years and I’m gonna try and get better every year.”

“He just told me to keep doing what I’m doing. Just continue to play defense, hit open shots, and play the game the right way,” explained Tolliver.

As for Friday night, everyone is staying pretty tight lipped about the rotation, lineup, or their preparations for the Rockets. When asked about the starting lineup LD said with a wry smile, “you know what; I’m going to sleep on it tonight. I’m still trying to toss some things around and I’m not 100% sure.”

I asked Teague about the Rockets and he answered, “We’re focusing on us. They’re going to be a good team. We know that. They’ve got James Harden and Jeremy Lin, great players, but we’re focusing on the Hawks. If we go out and do what we know what we can do, we should get the win.”

The Hawks cancelled Thursday’s practice after a long session today and will have everyone fresh for shootaround Friday morning before 7:30 tip-off at Philips Arena.” -By Robby Kalland on Oct 31, 3:22p SB Nation-

So Larry is stressing defense? Lets hope the players are listening?

Teague is going to have a good year.

Al will produce 18 and 10 this year..ISO is long gone so he should get more shots to produce more points.

Whose gonna check Harden tonight?

Slimjr

November 2nd, 2012
10:24 am

I would not put Al on Roy Hibbert. Roy has him by 25lbs.. Put Zaza on Roy..Give Al the advantage by playing him against smaller guys for a change…

tbhawksfan

November 2nd, 2012
10:25 am

Maybe Horford has just realized that for the Hawks to be a top team, he needs to be playing PF next to a good C. Smithwould need a big dominant C. A decent C, Horf at PF and Smith at SF ain’t gonna win much in the NBA

Slimjr

November 2nd, 2012
10:28 am

^^^ Strategy to employ against the Pacers in 5 days..

Sam

November 2nd, 2012
10:33 am

I am so ready for the game tonight. I feel like “Texas Ranger” when he said, “I’m all jacked up on Mountain Dew!”

Slimjr

November 2nd, 2012
10:33 am

My concern playing Josh at the 3 would be foul trouble.. He does not have the quickness advantage anymore, in fact he would be at a disadvantage.His on ball defense is not his strong suit..

Slimjr

November 2nd, 2012
10:40 am

Hey Al had sustained a very nasty and rare injury going up against a much larger opponent..

Larry has to employ a larger defender against guys like Roy.. Al is not soft. He’s more of a finesse type player.. He has evolve from being a banger when he first entered the league..Al fans need to evolve too.

C’mon Coach use your head!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rod from College Park

November 2nd, 2012
10:44 am

“We have a challenge. We have to be realistic. We know that I am a smaller center, more of a power forward being realistic.”

So, our two time all star center, still thinks he is a power forward. We also probably have one of the top 10 PF in the game on our roster (Josh Smith), which Al would not be. Get rid of one of these guys already. Sick of hearing the same song and dance every year.

Ken Strickland

November 2nd, 2012
10:49 am

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1384089-nba-basketball-5-ways-atlanta-hawks-will-still-contend-without-joe-johnson

Here’s some additional reading for Hawk fans while we wait the our season opener. I can’t wait.

vava74

November 2nd, 2012
10:52 am

Slimjr,

Horford consistently got the better out of Hibbert, size and weight regardless, by using his speed.

Hibbert is tall, but he is also mechanical and slow. Last year was a freak occurrence.

Sam

November 2nd, 2012
10:59 am

I wish the Hawks could have drafted Hibbert. I think we will have made the same mistake by not trading up with the Pistons to draft Andre Drummond. Big kid who needs to let his mental toughness catch up with his ability.

I bash kids like Damion James b/c I love the potential of big men like Bynum, Drummond, Hibbert, and even that Leonard kid the Trailblazers drafted. They have a talent that is never going away no matter how hard they do/don’t work – height and size. If James even slacked up for a heartbeat, he would be worthless out on the floor.

Slimjr

November 2nd, 2012
11:11 am

ZaZa on 92.9FM the Game right now!

grip

November 2nd, 2012
11:23 am

He told the truth, Petro is our third center and he sucks!!! Al is undersized, everybody is riding Ferry’s jock but he has failed miserably in our center rotation. Of course he has won with getting rid of Joe and Marvin, but that is not the topic of discussion. I do agree with Rod thou, if he cant get it done then we should make a move ASAP………..I do not want Al Horford over Josh Smith let me make that clear as well……

Astro Joe

November 2nd, 2012
11:40 am

They have a talent that is never going away no matter how hard they do/don’t work – height and size.

Height and size are physical attributes, not talents. Hasheem Thabeet has height and size. Al Horford has talent.

northcyde

November 2nd, 2012
11:43 am

Just going back to the other thread about Smith’s statistical milestone.

- 10,000 points
- 5,000 rebounds
- 2,000 steals
- 1,000 blocks

If you reduce the criteria to who reached that in their first 9 years in the league ( in which Smith will do if he hits those targets ), here are the players who have done that before their 10th year in the league:

- Kareem
- Duncan
- Garnett
- Pau Gasol

Smith’s scoring, rebounding and FG% is far below those guys during that 9 year time frame, while his assists and blocks are on par with what they do.

He’s also on the verge of getting 800 steals this year as well. So when you add that milestone to the above criteria, there’s only one person in the league who has done that by Year 10 of his career . . . and that is Kevin Garnett.

That doesn’t mean that Josh is comparable to KG as an All-Star or franchise type player. What it DOES show, however, is that he’s such a good all-around player, that if he just give up shooting jumpers outside of 16 feet, he might be a “poor man’s” Kevin Garnett.

If he played like a true PF, he may be closer to KG. If he played like a true SF, he may be closer to what Clifford Robinson of those early and mid-90s Portland teams were.

Because he’s in between those 2 players, he’s more like a low percentage shooting version of Larry Nance. Not a bad player at all, but not a superstar player either.

northcyde

November 2nd, 2012
11:43 am

That should’ve read 2000 assists, not steals.

lewis

November 2nd, 2012
11:46 am

Josh is a top 5 PF in this league period.

I’d like to see us sign Paul George

peacekthxbye

Slimjr

November 2nd, 2012
11:52 am

Josh is on pace to be inducted in the Hall of Fame once he hangs up his shoes for sure.

Those [nimbers] are awesome! Even more impressive the way northcyde framed them….

Nique said yesterday on 92.9FM The Game yesterday that he has told Josh that he is an Allstar. Just keep playing his game and dont worry about the past snubs.. Eventually his goal will manifest…

Slimjr

November 2nd, 2012
11:53 am

Josh= STAT STUFFER

Slimjr

November 2nd, 2012
11:58 am

OKC is so loaded with such talented basketball players, they brought on board arguably the worst basketball player in the past 20 years in Hasheem Thabeet… Sheesh!!!

northcyde

November 2nd, 2012
12:06 pm

As for Horford’s 5 questions . . . props to Vivlamore for asking that follow up question to #3, and flat out asking him what position he’d rather play. Good thing we have a game tonight, because his answer to that question would be cited over and over and over. And still might be cited all throughout this season.

I hope and pray the Al Horford that showed up in the playoffs vs the Celtics, is the one we see this season. Because say what you want, it was HORFORD who was the go-to guy in Game 6.

Not Joe.

Not Josh.

It was AL.

I still predict a “battle” of sorts for control of this team between Josh and Al, especially if this team is struggling to find it’s identity, and if Smith’s shot selection is causing this team grief. Horford is not going to sit back and watch Josh and those other guards jack up a ton of shots, while he sits back and only takes 11 shots a game.

At some point, his ego is going to kick in, and there will be a clash between Smith and Horford over the control of the team.

Slimjr

November 2nd, 2012
12:07 pm

Hey doc, MV7 is so bad the Eagles beat the Giants and the Ravens.. [Eyes roll]

It’s coaching my man. The Eagles are not a bad football team like the Lakers, the ownership has spent a ton of money on talent that the coaching staff has failed miserably in expressing wins…

Add the Cowboys to that list too..BTW, Romo may get a 70 million extension for 4 more years? Huh? He’s 31st in 3rd down conversions and leads the NFL in intercepts too.. Hmmmm

northcyde

November 2nd, 2012
12:10 pm

LOL @ Slimjr . . . . you forgot the . . . tag in your 11:52 am post.

Josh can’t even make an All-Star team. People don’t even respect him enough to name him to a 1st team All-Defensive team. So how will he make the Hall of Fame?

falCans

November 2nd, 2012
12:12 pm

Al is NO SCRUB BUT ….. He is overpaid which makes him expendabl. Zaza can give us 12ppg & 10rb (or 10&8) a night for over half of Horfords salary. Tradehim while we can!!!

Slimjr

November 2nd, 2012
12:16 pm

northcyde: time heals most wounds….He’s on pace..He’s on Pace.. He’s on Pace..

His goals will manifest.

Jay Bilas did Josh a great injustice by trying in earnest to curses this dude’s career before he even stepped on the court. And would tell him to his face..Jay your a loser……………………

Slimjr

November 2nd, 2012
12:17 pm

falCans

November 2nd, 2012
12:25 pm

Funny how all of a sudden EVRRYBODY is a Jsmoove fan lol. Last season (&the 4m years prior) it was just me. Hof?? Eh?? Idk…but top 4 hawk ever??? Easily!!

Mike is Back

November 2nd, 2012
12:39 pm

Hey, I got no problems with AL comments…he’s right…with injury prone Zaza and banged up Petro…Heck, with a healthy Zaza and Petro we need another BIG…I think quite a few bloggers has mention as much. Give the dude a chance…I think he is going to step up.

RISE UP AL…LET’S GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…ooops.lol

GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jhan

November 2nd, 2012
12:48 pm

So when is Al supposed to be honest & when should he lie? Many want it both ways here.

Keith

November 2nd, 2012
12:48 pm

Sounds like Al is saying that he is not a center?

MsDee

November 2nd, 2012
12:55 pm

I too have no problems with Horford’s comments..heck, he is just telling it how it is! And just b/c he advised Zaza to handle the bigger centers then himself, doesnt mean he is soft, that’s just facts, ZAZA is a bigger, taller center than he is..Gosh!! Put the ego’s in your pockets and DO WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN!! This is one of the many things I like about Horford. He isnt gonna play STUPID and take games into his on hands just to prove a stupid point to his haters, like Josh does every freakin game!! (what Jay Bilas said some years and years ago, com on, Josh, really?????GET OVER IT ALREADY…DING DING DING, HAVE YA EVER THOUGHT THAT’S WHY YO BUTT HAVENT BEEN AN ALLSTAR YET??? YOU TOO BUSY TRYIN TO PROVE A STUPID POINT TO SOMEONE WHO PROBABLY HAVENT THOUGHT ABOUT YOU SINCE THAT DRAFT DAY…GET OVER IT AND JUST PLAY SMART BALL LIKE MY BOY HORFORD HAS BEEN DOING EVER SINCE HE HAS BEEN IN THE LEAGUE..DING DING DING, “2ND TIME ALLSTAR”, JOSH!!….GOODNESS!! )

cp

November 2nd, 2012
12:56 pm

I have no problem with what Al said. Sometimes you guys read too much into what is said. You cats complain on here year round that we need a center and when dude says it then its a problem. You cant have it both ways.

MsDee

November 2nd, 2012
12:57 pm

Sorry, had to vent a little..or maybe a lot!!

cp

November 2nd, 2012
12:58 pm

I remember during the year Josh came out he was predicted to go in the lottery but there were reports that he wasn’t looking too good in the workouts. I remember reading that one team even cut his workout short because he was just going through the motions. I understand why Bilas said what he did I just think it was the wrong time to do it. Im glad he has proven him wrong though.

vava74

November 2nd, 2012
1:00 pm

jhan,

In sports, if you put yourself in psychological inferior position by telling the truth, then you must lie.

Even if those are his feelings – something I think is bad and translates into a degree of softness – he should hide them.

Now every guy who is bigger than Al thinks that the size advantage is given them the upper hand.

Sports sometimes are won before the tip off.

Lions Den

November 2nd, 2012
1:04 pm

Astro Joe summed it up perfectly…..Oh, Lawd. Hilarious!!!!

Grandad

November 2nd, 2012
1:14 pm

vava

That is Horse Poop !

Grandad

November 2nd, 2012
1:16 pm

What Al says in thde AJC is not giving any opponent a psychological adv.

I dare say, less than 1% of NBA players read the AJC.

MsDee

November 2nd, 2012
1:18 pm

FTPB

vava74,

“Players have volatile opinions over what will be their next course of action.
Howard flip flopped dozens of times.
Paul wanted to sue the NBA for blocking the trade to the LAL and then came public saying that he wanted the LAC all along.
I would not read too much on what either is saying, although I have little to none hope that any of the two will sign with us.
The bright lights of LA are too strong for us to compete with them.”

I feel ya about the bright lights of LA and all but Atlanta isnt chop liver either. If Ferry bring those 2 to Atlanta, this city could and would be 3rd in line behind the LA city brothers

Chris Vivlamore

November 2nd, 2012
1:26 pm

Back from shoot-around and a quick lunch. Gotta love the ATL as I sit on my patio (in November) going over my notes for a game thread I will post in a little while. I made it a point to ask LD and several players how they will guard James Harden. Two items to report. Johan Petro (sore back) will not play. He will be the inactive player (as I suspected and wrote earlier this week). LD still would not reveal his starting lineup, calling it a “game-time decision.”

Grandad

November 2nd, 2012
1:28 pm

What Al said is exactly what we / I say on this board daily.
The hawks are small.
the Hawks need a long rangy Big !
We all know that.
Yawl are getting goofy over this interview;
just `cause you`re looking for a reason to call Al soft.

LD lies and spins during interviews and yawl carp to high heaven.
Al speaks like a man, tells the truth, here yawl go.

You cannot have it both ways.

Just support our kids.
Al is a Hawk – always has been.
He`s never asked out.

Al is a consumate Team-Player.
Al works well and has terrific chemistry with Josh.
Al is highly respected within the league.
Al has an extremely high B-ball IQ.
Al is (like it or not) the face of the franchise.

Psychological disadvantage my ass !

Some of yawl / not all / but some, are poot-heads !