When Gordon Hayward was injured five and a half minutes into his debut with the Boston Celtics against the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was devastating. With the addition of Hayward and Kyrie Irving in the offseason, there was more hype around this team since the Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce era. People were giving the Celtics a chance to finally dethrone Lebron James and reach the NBA finals. Now that Hayward went down, people began saying this will be a year where young guys like Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier will develop and become better so when Hayward comes back next year the team will be even better. Nobody saw that entering Christmas the Celtics would have the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Irving has been so huge for the Celtics this season that some consider him to be in the Most Valuable Player race. Anotimportanttant part of the team has been Al Horford. Horford is entering his second season with the team and was one of the few players who was on the team last year. He has been a leader for the team and has done a little bit of everything each and every game he plays in. Despite being 31 years old and in his eleventh season, Horford has shown that he can still compete at a very high level.
Compared to last season, Horford is only averaging .3 more points per game at 14.3 a game, but he is shooting the ball more efficiency which has been a reason why the Celtics have been winning so many games. He is shooting 53.7 percent from the field which is over six percent better from the field than he was shooting last season. Not to mention, Horford is shooting 42 percent from three-point range, which is seven percent higher than last year. He is also averaging 7.9 rebounds a game which is his most since the 2013-2014 season. It is also one rebound more per game than he averaged last season. Horford averages 5.4 assists per game, which ranks second for power forwards in the league, and is a career high. He also leads the Celtics in assists. Every statistical category Horford has improved since last year and is a main threat in the offense because he can do it all.
Not only has Horford been great on the offensive side of the ball, defensively he has been great as well. Returning to the power forward position, Horford has shown the ability to guard these type of players. Not only can he guard power forwards he has the ability to guard multiple positions, anywhere on the floor. He can guard the post, mid-range, and even at the three-point line. He averages a block per game and nearly a steal per game. Horford has been so good defensively, some have him in the discussion for defensive player of the year.
In order for the Celtics to start as well as they have, they needed multiple people to step up. Horford has been one of those players who has shown the ability to do a little of everything. If the Celtics want to continue winning throughout the regular season and the playoffs, Horford is going to have to be an important piece on the offensive side and the defensive side of the ball.
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