The Atlanta Hawks moved Joe Johnson, one of the staples of their team, this past off-season which pretty much signaled a changing of the guard in their organization. With the impending departure of Josh Smith, it’s even more apparent that’s what they’re planning. This move is obviously the organization trying to go beyond being a team that gets bounced in the first round of the NBA Playoffs every season.
Moving on from Johnson and Smith means that the Hawks have put much of their stock in Al Horford. For most of the season, Horford has delivered the goods in his new and larger role with Atlanta. He has been arguably their best player this season, averaging 17.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, one steal and 1.1 blocks per game on 54.4 percent shooting from the floor. He’s been awesome.
However, as the Hawks have clinched their spot in the playoffs, Horford’s play has been declining over his last three games without a decline in time spent on court. He has sat out the last two contests for the Hawks, but his declining stats are troubling. Over his last three games, he has averaged only 14.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, three assists, one block and 0.7 steals per game on just 47.6 percent shooting. That’s far from what he was giving the team.
If the Hawks really want to show that they are changing the face and direction of their franchise, Horford has to step up leading into the postseason over the last few games. He is the key to their success and the key to future. If he plays like has over these three games, they will continue to lose in the first round of the playoffs.