The Philadelphia 76ers were very active in free agency and signing Al Horford to a four-year, $108 million contract was a smart move.
Horford opted out of his $30.1 million contract with the Celtics for next year and became an unrestricted free agent. The 76ers had already lost JJ Redick in free agency and Jimmy Butler forced them to make a sign-and-trade with the Heat but now they have one of the tallest and most talented starting lineups in the NBA.
76ers Starting Lineup with Al Horford as Power Forward
C: Joel Embiid
PF: Al Horford
SF: Tobias Harris
SG: Josh Richardson
PG: Ben Simmons
Horford Will Help Embiid
If I was Joel Embiid I would be very happy about Al Horford joining the Sixers. Horford sent Embiid off his game while playing with the Celtics, as the Sixers were 3-10 in the last three years, including the playoffs, in their meetings with Embiid and Horford on the court.
Embiid shot just 44.0 percent from the field and 23.6 from 3-point range in those 13 games while making 47.9 percent of his shots and 32.0 percent of his 3-point attempts against the rest of the NBA.
Not having to face Horford will clearly help Embiid. As for Horford, he gets to be a power forward, the position he wanted. He started 68 games for the Celtics last season and 59 of them were at center while in 2017-18 he started 60 of his 72 games at power forward.
“It was money, but also other factors,” a source told the Boston Herald about why Horford joined the Sixers. “I think part of it was Al wanting to play with a true center. Embiid is now the best center he doesn’t have to guard anymore.”
Al Horford’s Stats in the Last Two Seasons
The numbers prove that Al Horford is much more comfortable at power forward. You can see that he averaged more points and shot significantly better from distance when he started at power forward over the last two seasons.
As a starting power forward: 69 games, 13.7 points per game, 45.3 percent from 3-point range
As a starting center: 71 games, 12.8 points, 34.1 percent from 3-point range
A frontcourt with Joel Embiid and Al Horford should allow the Sixers to dominate at both ends of the court and when Embiid, they can keep an All-Star center like Horford on the court.
“There were some great battles (with Embiid), and when this opportunity came along, the possibility of teaming up with him got me really excited about the potential – how good we can be – help our team be defensively,” Horford told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Just get to working together and do some special things.”
The five-time NBA-All Star may not score 30 points a night but he can be a complement to Embiid and fill in for him to keep him fresh for the playoffs. Also, the Sixers could have one of the best defenses in the league next season and their five starters are all average or better players on that end of the court.
Their teammate Mike Scott recently told Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times that Embiid can learn a lot from Horford.
“I think Jo can learn a lot from (Al Horford). He’s sometimes too unselfish. He’s a great guy.” Scott and Horford played together in Atlanta.