KP, who wears Celtics No. 8 jersey, is still the league’s top blocker. In the past seven seasons, he has ranked among the top 20 in the league’s hot pot rankings every year. He is also the top pick-and-roll defender in the NBA. When he faced the pick-and-roll last season, he only lost an average of 0.93 points per possession. Looking at the entire league, this number can only be achieved by defensive players such as Anthony Davis, Steven Adams and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Go lower…
Al Horford officially begins his sixth year with the Celtics this fall.
Horford, 37, is heading towards the twilight of his NBA career. Last season, his scoring average dropped below 10 points for the first time, averaging only 9.8 points throughout the season.
In fact, when he joined the Celtics two years ago in 2021, fans had already begun to question what else this veteran could contribute to the team. As a result, the 5-time All-Star fell again. Contrary to everyone’s expectations, he proved that he is the all-around center most suitable for the Celtics system.
This veteran who has been in the NBA for 16 years, his biggest contribution in Boston is to bring the team a successful system. During his cooperation with the Celtics (although there was a two-year window in between, He joined the Philadelphia 76ers with a huge salary), and the team made it to at least the second round of the playoffs almost every year (only one year it failed to reach the standard). Even though he was not the team’s leader, he seemed to be the leader of the team. He is a general pivot, bringing priceless contributions to the team’s core roles of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown – and even former passers-by such as Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas.
Whether these contributions are tough defense, ambushing three-pointers, or the occasional low-post single, you can always rely on the bald player with the number 42, but he will never be strong every year, but it is also a reality that must be faced.
As “The Living Buddha” approaches retirement, the Celtics must solve this question: “Who can be Horford’s successor?” And this offseason, the Celtics at least tried to answer it.
Before this year’s draft, the Celtics conducted a three-way trade and acquired center Kristaps Porzingis, who had a career year with the Wizards, and signed a two-year, $60 million extension contract, tying up the Latvian long man. Set for the 2025-26 season.
By then, Horford’s two-year contract extension has also expired; even if he can play until the age of 40, he will most likely only get a little playing time.
Fortunately for the Celtics, some of Porzingis’s strengths in playing style complement those of Horford, and he has the opportunity to fill the holes left by the latter’s aging or even retirement.
Porzingis, like Horford, has always been a reliable outside sniper: his outside shooting percentage in his league career was as high as 35.9%. Last season in Washington, he even had the second-best three-point shooting performance of his career: 5.5 attempts per game. , and has a high shooting rate of 38.5%.
Although Horford has a better outside shooting accuracy in his career (37.4%!), and his outside shooting percentage last season reached a career high of 44.6%, which is an exaggerated performance, but this does not mean that the Latvian long man cannot compete with Tatum and Brown. Create a chemical effect.
This combination complements each other: Porzingis’ perimeter ability has been proven during the season to help double J open up wider cutting space, and the opponent’s defense will also hesitate whether to mark the long man on the outside or tighten to help defend the cutter, like It’s the same defensive hole Horford has created over the past few years.
In addition to peripheral fire, the destructive power of the low position is also a major focus. In recent years, we have rarely seen Horford attack the low post and post up singles; but in his early days with the Celtics, during the 2016-2017 season, Horford scored 3.6 points in the low post per game, and he still only relied on He can score points efficiently with 7.5 touches (but starting from the second year, his touches and points in this area began to decline).
Porzingis also had a similar performance in the low post last season. He averaged 3.6 points in 4.0 low post possessions in a single game. This number is already the fourth highest in the league. In the same game, he also caused damage in the elbow area. Strong, averaging 2.9 points per game. After coming to this season, the Celtics coaching staff has indeed increased the proportion of low-post attacks in tactics (the second highest in the league), allowing Porzingis to fully exert his destructive power.
In addition, both have shown their efficiency in the pick-and-roll as a cover: last season, Porzingis averaged 3.4 points per game through the pick-and-roll; the 2016-17 version of Horford also had 3.6 points.
This also adds a layer of insurance to the Celtics’ offensive system. At least when their perimeter fails (like last season’s playoffs), they have other means of scoring points that they can use. In all games in the playoffs last season, the Celtics had an almost unstoppable record of 9 wins and 1 loss when their outside shooting percentage was higher than 39.0%. However, once they fell below this high standard, they struggled. They have 2 wins and 8 losses, but you must know that last season, the most accurate team in the league from the outside, the team’s shooting percentage was only 38.7%, which means that their style of play will be very dependent on the situation of the day.