NBA AM: Horford Now Comfortable At Center?
Al Horford Now More Comfortable With Center Position? One of the most prominent storylines surrounding the Atlanta Hawks over the past two years is the team’s long term positional plans for ‘center’ Al Horford.
Despite playing out of position, Horford has quickly established himself as one of the league’s elite centers, while garnering two All-Star selections although most believe he’d be naturally more suited to play power forward full-time.
In fact, Horford himself has never shied away from his desire to be a full-time power forward even though the Hawks have an All-Star caliber talent in Josh Smith currently on the roster at the position.
However as more and more time passes its evident Horford has become more acclimated to the rigors of playing center.
“I’m used to playing both and I feel comfortable,” Horford told HOOPSWORLD’s Mark Nugent. “At times I’ll play center, at times I’ll play power forward and that’s just the way that kind of goes and I think we have a good thing going here with the group of guys we have and we’re just trying to build on it.”
Horford has thrived at center despite being somewhat undersized by becoming one of the league’s most efficient marksmen from mid range. As a result opposing teams are adjusting their defensive schemes to take away his perimeter attack.
To combat the revised focus aimed at nullifying his strength, Horford worked on his ball handling extensively since the end of last season with the goal of becoming a true inside-outside threat.
“My emphasis [during offseason] was on trying to drive to the basket more, be more aggressive in that area,” Horford said. “I feel very confident with my pick and roll, pick and pop kind of game I should say, in the midrange area and since teams are closing out on me a lot more, I wanted to be able to put the ball down on the floor and that’s something that I worked on this summer.”
The Hawks have reached the postseason in four consecutive seasons, with Horford playing a pivotal role during the run.
Unfortunately the team has been sent home in the second round of the playoffs three straight years which has many following the franchise doubting the trio of Horford, Smith and Joe Johnson can get the team to the Eastern Conference Finals and beyond.
But Horford doesn’t buy into that talk and truly believes this current Hawks team can beat anyone in the league and contend for Eastern Conference supremacy at the very least.
“I think as long as we stay healthy and we keep buying in to what coach is telling us, I don’t think there’s really any limit for us,” Horford said. “We feel that we can compete with any team. That’s what it’s all about, how confident you are as a team.”
Antawn Jamison And The Charlotte Bobcats? Cleveland Cavaliers forward Antawn Jamison has amassed over 18,000 points, earned two All-Star selections and was named Sixth Man of the Year during his fourteen year playing career.
Jamison knows his playing career is quickly winding down but he already has a script in his mind on where he’d like to finish it out – possibly in Charlotte wearing a Bobcats uniform.
“That’s always been a dream of mine – to be home”, Jamison told Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer on where he’d like to end his career. “To have my parents there (at home games), to have my kids there.”
Jamison grew up in the Charlotte area and played collegiately at the University of North Carolina.
The veteran forward is in the final year of his contract and is on the books for $15.1 million. He is expected to generate plenty of interest from contending teams around the league before the trade deadline.
However while most accomplished veterans without championship rings are plotting their strategies on where to pursue their title dreams, it appears Jamison wouldn’t mind suiting up for the rebuilding Bobcats.
The prospect of playing in front of his family would possibly be too much for Jamison to pass up if Charlotte showed interest once he hit the free agent market next summer.
“Having the kids come to the games with me all the time? That would be great,” Jamison said.
Andrew Bynum, In Beast Mode: After returning from a four game suspension and hearing his name constantly mentioned in trade rumors, Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum has returned to the court on a mission.
The seventh year player is averaging 22.7 points and 17 rebounds per game in his first three games.
The impact of his arrival and stellar play early on hasn’t surprised five time NBA champion and future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant.
“I can’t say that I am [surprised],” Bryant said following Tuesday’s win over the Houston Rockets. “We all know the amount of talent that he has and he’s really worked on it. One thing that I like about him is he has an engine inside him. He wants to do well. He wants to dominate. He has an ambition to be great, and that’s the biggest positive about him aside from all the physical attributes.”
Though the sample size is relatively small the Lakers have done a solid job of getting him more involved into their offense early and often and the results are showing.
“I think I’m getting a lot more touches, so it’s easier to be confident,” Bynum said.
The goal for Bynum now is to stay healthy. Bynum has missed at least 15 games in each season since playing in all 82 games during the 2007 campaign.