The Atlanta Hawks are in the process of changing the direction of their franchise. For the past few seasons they have been an above-average NBA team that relied heavily on Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, but never yielded any substantial results. After trading Johnson this past off-season and making it clear that this will be Smith’s last season in Atlanta, things have definitely started to change.
The focus of their team has switched decidedly more towards Jeff Teague and even more towards Al Horford, who will be the focal-points of the Hawks over the next few years. In particular, Horford has shined with an increased role in Atlanta. He has the highest usage rate of his career and, subsequently, is averaging career-highs in points and rebounds per game. For the season, Horford is averaging 17.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 blocks and one steal per game and is shooting 54.7 percent from the field.
With him performing so well this season, though, there were some people that were curious if Horford could sustain that level of production for the entire season. It’s not that he isn’t supremely talented, because he is. The questions were more because Horford has never had to endure the workload that he has this season. He has emphatically answered those questions, though.
In the 13 games that the Hawks have played in March, Horford has not only sustained his high level of performance, but has actually improved his numbers. For the month he is averaging 18.5 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, one block and 1.6 steals per game. The only number that has slipped is his field goal percentage, which has dropped to a still fantastically efficient 51.6 percent.
Horford has given every indication that the Hawks are making a wise decision by building their team around him. He has put up the best production of his career and, more impressively, has been able to keep that elite production going. It may be the first time that we’ve seen him play this well, but it definitely seems like we should get used to it in the future.