There was somewhat of an air of uncertainty surrounding Atlanta Hawks big man Al Horford heading into the 2012-2013 NBA season. There were absolutely no concerns about Horford’s talent and ability, but this was a player that was coming off of a season where he played just 11 games after tearing his pectoral muscle. No one knew if he would fully be back on his game.
Horford eliminated any doubters that there may have been, though, as he submitted a phenomenal season coming off of the injury. In 74 games he averaged 17.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals in 37.2 minutes per game while shooting 54.3 percent from the floor.
Horford was incredibly effective on both ends of the floor for the Hawks last season and in multiple situations. Offensively he averaged 0.99 points per possession including 1.01 points as per possession in the pick-and-roll and 0.85 points per possession in post-up situations. He was above-average defensively as well, particularly in defending the pick-and-roll where he allowed just 0.78 points per possession last season.
The impact that Horford had on the Hawks last season can really be seen looking at his on-court/off-court numbers. Atlanta was 2.7 points per 100 possessions better with Horford on the floor and were 4.9 points per 100 possessions better defensively with Horford on the floor. That means the Hawks were a net 7.6 points per 100 possessions better with Horford in their lineup.
Here’s the crazy thing, though: Horford wasn’t even the most featured player on offense for the Hawks last season. While Horford had a usage rate of 22.1 percent last season, Josh Smith boasted a usage rate of 26.6 percent. With Smith in their lineup, they were forced to run a lot of their plays through Smith, taking touches away from Horford.
As we all know, Smith is out of the picture now with the Hawks. Atlanta replaced him with another quality player in Paul Millsap, but Millsap is a player that doesn’t demand the ball as much as Smith did last season. In any case, Horford is now the heart of this team and will be the most featured player on the offensive end of the floor.
With Horford’s role almost certainly increasing, that should mean another career-year for him. He’s just 27 years old and is entering his prime and could really wow everyone as he’s made the focal-point of this team. Horford is a two-time All-Star, though he missed out on the honors last season. Heading into the upcoming year, though, it would be a bigger surprise if he wasn’t made an All-Star for a third time.