After yet another low-key solid showing for the Philadelphia 76ers, it has to be asked: Is Al Horford even capable of being flashy?
The Philadelphia 76ers‘ 10th straight home win of the season was flashy.
Tobias Harris went off for another 20-plus point performance, Matisse Thybulle clamped down on Donovan Mitchell in another impressive 3-and-D performance, and Ben Simmons‘ streak of absolutely dominant performances is rapidly becoming the new norm.
But did you know Al Horford had his best game in a red, white, and blue jersey with 17 points and eight rebounds?
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That’s not even true, but the fact that both of us had to look that up highlights the sheer unflashyness of Horford’s style of play.
(For the record, Horford has 32 in November’s 114-109 loss to the Phoenix Suns).
A 6-foot-9 stretch four in a center’s body, Horford has pretty much made a career out of being a role player – a max contract role player, but a role player none the less. Need a player to set a hard screen? Horford is your guy. How about an offensive rebound? Horford averages 2.1 a game.
Clutch 3? Outlet pass? Heck, even a slam dunk? Horford, Horford, Horford.
Make no mistake, while Joel Embiid versus Rudy Gobert was the ‘must-watch’ performance of the Utah Jazz game, Horford’s ability to get a bucket over a variety of big wings like Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, and Jeff Green helped to put the game out of reach before halftime.
Should we be surprised?
As things presently stand, Horford is on pace for 109 3 pointers on the season, a number higher than D’Angelo Russell, Klay Thompson (duh), and even Jimmy Butler, and yet, you’d seldom find a fan who would rather have any of those players over a $100-plus million backup center moonlighting at power forward.
And yet, in actuality, Horford is all but essential to the Sixers’ success moving forward.
That’s right, even as Embiid garners headline after headline regardless of how he performs, Horford’s role in Brett Brown‘s offense is far more complex and varied from game to game with little to no fanfare.
I mean think about that for a second, on some nights, Horford is asked to fill a traditional power forward role for the majority of the evening, albeit in the modern-day parked-beyond-the-arc sort of way only to then play almost exclusively in the paint the next game in Embiid’s absence.
That takes a ton of smarts, versatility, and emotional maturity.
So while we may never see a sea of 12-year-olds rocking number 42 jerseys, all the while flinching at every free throw, Al Horford is an essential part of the Philadelphia 76ers’ 2020 championship formula – he just needs to let his hair down and embrace some South Philly swagger.