The NBA draft has come and gone, now free agency is just about here. Are the Boston Celtics a better team now than they were before?
That is the question that Celtic fans are wondering aloud and amongst themselves. If anything, the NBA draft created more inquiries than answers. The Celtics were supposed to trade for a star player. Armed with a load of draft picks and other assets, trades were few and far between for them. Eight selections in all, the Celtics had at their disposal. Not one acquisition of a star player took place.
That may change come Friday.
— Boston.com (@BostonDotCom) June 29, 2016
Horford, who played power forward and center for the Atlanta Hawks his entire career, is the type of player the Celtics are hoping to acquire. He is not one of the biggest stars available in NBA free agency, but he is good enough to add what the Celtics are missing on their roster.
Al Horford is a versatile post player with an evolutionary game. It is evolutionary because he has added a different element in each of his nine seasons in the league. The former third overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft came into the league a little bit raw offensively. Defense was also a chore at times for Al Horford. In spite of the criticism, he had a solid rookie season, averaging 10.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per contest. Each game, it seemed as if Horford showcased what he was learning during practice and film study.
Footwork inside of the painted area was a tall task early on. Now, not only is Al Horford one of the better NBA post players, he has an improved jump shot which extends beyond the three-point line.
On defense, Al Horford has become a better rim-protector than he was as a rookie. No other better indication for that skill than the two measly fouls he has averaged for the majority of the seasons. Two fouls per game means that Horford is using his feet more on defense.
That would be a welcome sight for the Boston Celtics.
One of the Celtics’ biggest weaknesses last season was toughness in the middle. Al Horford is not in the same class as Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside. He is not a game-altering type of player defensively, but he is better than what he was when he initially entered the NBA.
Signing Al Horford does not give the Celtics the star on the level they prefer. Truthfully, the Celtics desire Kevin Durant and Jimmy Butler. Durant is a free agent, while Butler plays on the Chicago Bulls.
It is more likely than not that Kevin Durant will either stay with the Oklahoma City, or sign with the Golden State Warriors. And Jimmy Butler may not get moved. The Celtics, therefore have to come up with a couple of alternative plans.
Free agent Al Horford is a strong alternative plan for the Boston Celtics.
The only drawback to the Celtics going after Horford is the center’s age. Horford turned 30 on June 3rd. Hassan Whiteside, at 27, is a better fit in terms of youth and perhaps size; Horford is 6-10, while Whiteside is 7-0.
FanSided has the Celtics as one of the teams that may look to sign the Heat center. Whiteside hopes to have a contract done by the end of the day on July 1st. It is unclear if the Celtics will move that fast. They are still attempting to trade for Jimmy Butler, and they are set to meet with Kevin Durant.
If the Boston Celtics swing and only land Al Horford, they will be a better team. The NBA draft did not make the Celtics better, just younger and more inexperienced. Something has to be done. The Boston Celtics must acquire a star player this offseason.
Luckily for them, Al Horford is a star player. No, he is not the biggest name available, but the forward/center would be a strong pickup.
We will find out what the Boston Celtics have up their sleeves soon enough.
[Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]