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Welcome to Philadelphia: Statistical Overview of Al Horford

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A deep(ish) dive into the numbers for the veteran big man

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

With free agency upon us, I wanted to provide some descriptive information about the Sixers’ incoming players in ways you can’t get at Basketball-Reference.com. No conclusions or advocacy, just telling the story of the player. Each free agency addition will get one.

Al Horford (2018-19)

Table 1: Al Horford Overview

Season G PTS REB AST FG% FG3% eFG% FT% PIPM
Season G PTS REB AST FG% FG3% eFG% FT% PIPM
2018-19 68 13.6 6.7 4.2 53.5 36 58.6 82.1 3.07
Career 786 14.1 8.4 3.2 52.5 36.8 54.6 75.4 -

Scoring

Relative density of Al Horford’s field goal attempts from the 2018-19 season. His high density areas are at the rim and straight away from 3.

Figure 1: Relative density of FGA

Horford shoots around 60-65 percent at the rim and is a consistent 3-point shooter, save for right above the break where he is slightly more efficient. In general, this is a pretty typical big man distribution.

Figure 2: Approximate area FG%

Creation & Dependence

Figure 3 depicts the relative density of made field goals by Horford that were assisted. The pattern visually tracks with his overall field goal attempt distribution.

Figure 3: Relative density of assisted made FG

Here are the made field goals by other players that are assisted by Horford. Unsurprisingly, he creates assists at the rim and corner/wing 3s.

Figure 4: Relative density of assisted (by Horford) made FG

This is the debut of the dependency metric here at Liberty Ballers. While the exact methodology will remain under wraps for a bit, it’s a spatially weighted combination of percent of field goals assisted and field goal attempts. High dependency scores mean you need others to create for you. Low dependency is the opposite. Important to note that this explicitly is not a measure of quality. There are extremely high quality players on each end of the spectrum. Horford is in the 83rd percentile of dependency.

Figure 5: Scoring dependency percentile

Gravity

You might have seen one of these yesterday on Twitter also made by me. Let’s walk through this briefly. Shooting gravity is essentially how the presence of one player can bend the alignment of the court/defense to them in ways not typical of a normal player. Face-guarding Klay Thompson 32 feet from the basket would be an example. In making this, I wanted to be able to visualize a quantitative measure of gravity (methodology to be written up soon on Nylon Calculus).

The important thing to keep in mind is that this surface is essentially the difference between Al Horford and a median NBA player in terms of efficiency and usage. Much like actual gravity on a flat plane, the lowest (red) areas on the chart are where Horford pulls the defense to him the strongest. Again, this is not explicitly a measure of quality. The data extends to past the 3-point line by several feet. If this is 404’ing for you, wait a second so the background ads and such need to load first it seems.

Al_Horford_Gravity

Horford pulls gravity to him straight away from 3 and near the rim.

Contract (current estimates)

2019-20: $28,311,688
2020-21: $27,603,896
2021-22: $26,896,104
2022-23: $26,188,312 (not fully guaranteed)
2023-24: UFA