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How Al Horford fits the Boston Celtics' system

He fits like a glove and will make his teammates better.

After going through the Ainge era without ever signing a prominent free agent, the Celtics inked Al Horford to a 4-year $113 million deal. The signing will be a welcome addition to a Celtics team that relied on the likes of Jared Sullinger for frontcourt stability and seriously lacked a consistent scoring option. The fit with Horford is a match made in heaven for Brad Stevens and company. Let's take a closer look at where Horford can help on both sides of the court.


The Celtics lacked any consistent frontcourt options, and it really effected them as a halfcourt team. The Celtics were 27th in efg%, and were 28th in 3P%. The roster lacked the balance it needed from an offensive standpoint and relied heavily on Isaiah Thomas or transition buckets, which don't translate to playoff success.

Horford PnR

One of my favorite things about Horford's game is his ability to set picks. He gets wide, forcing defenders to take longer routes, and he's one of the most dangerous screeners because of his ability to roll hard, pick and pop, or stretch to the three-point line. Though Amir Johnson had a strong season with the Celtics, he was never an ideal screen setter for Thomas because of his inability to shoot. The Thomas-Horford pick and roll should be a lethal combination, similar to the Teague-Horford combo. The difference is that unlike Teague, Thomas can shoot off the pull-up, so teams can't just drop back like they did often against the Hawks in the postseason. The Celtics will now have the option to potentially start guys like Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, and Kelly Olynyk alongside Thomas and Horford for maximum spacing and shooting.

Horford runs floor

Another skill that Horford brings is his posting up ability. Though the Celtics system doesn't encourage many post-up opportunities, Horford's ability to run the floor will allow him to create post mismatches in transition. Even if Horford doesn't score in his attempts, these type of plays create mismatches all over the floor. Horford is also a strong passer and will put on a clinic passing it to Celtics slashers such as Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder.


Horford has gained a reputation as one of the better defensive centers in the league, and he's earned every bit of it.

Horford Rotation

What Horford doesn't have in athleticism, he makes up for with elite positioning. Horford always knows where to be on the court and is great at using his seven-foot wingspan to protect the paint. Last season, Horford ranked 11th amongst centers in blocks per game, and he was a great option as the last line of defense. Rebounding is a little concerning—his rebounding rate has gone down the past three seasons, though some of that may have been a product of his role on the Hawks. Boston's biggest issues defensively were mostly a physical presence in the post and lack of rim protection. Horford directly addresses those issues and adds another person who will run or start the break.

What should we expect from Horford in year one.

Horford will have an adjustment period as he gets used to his first new team in his entire career. Once he understands the system and develops good chemistry with Isaiah Thomas off the pick and roll, he could make this team a force. Besides the talent that Horford brings the Celtics individually, his impact can help the Celtics' younger prospects. With Marcus Smart set to take on more ball-handling duties, having a great passing big like Horford will allow him to not have to shoulder the full burden. Also guys like Bradley, Crowder, and Olynyk will be able to get some quick buckets thanks to having another facilitator to make scoring a bit easier for them. In short, Horford will bring spacing, shooting, passing, a defensive presence, and another All-Star to Boston. Looks like Wyc finally got his fireworks.

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