Could Thunder big man Al Horford be the next Chris Paul?

The Oklahoma City Thunder have overturned their roster, including a trade that at this time a year ago no one thought was possible. The Thunder got significant value without giving up any additional assets when shipping Chris Paul to the Valley. That is a significant turnaround for CP3’s trade value who the Houston Rockets felt had such little value they had to attach four first-round picks to move on from him. After calling Paul’s deal the worst in sports, a year later Houston is now the proud owner of John Wall’s contract…Have fun with that, Tillman Fertitta!

Now, Oklahoma City will try to pull off the same feat this time with Al Horford. The 13-year veteran is viewed as negative assets right now after a down year in Philadelphia along with his inflated contract.

When the 76ers inked Al Horford to a four-year pact worth 109-million dollars, I do not think Philly considered how he would fit alongside Joel Embiid. It seems as if the Sixers just went into the 2019-20 offseason with the mindset of “Well, If we have Al Horford, no one else can have him.” After he locked down Joel Embiid throughout his career.

While Horford struggled to figure out his perfect fit in the City of Brotherly Love, there were still some bright spots for him. The Florida product graded out as an A- catch and shoot three-point shooter (88-percentile), with an impressive B- Three-Point gravity which can really help the development of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as he tries to learn the Point Guard position. As Shai drives to the cup, having the floor spacing from his man in the middle will be huge.

Horford is also an above-average playmaker at the center position. The most important skillset Horford will be able to display way more than he did in Philly is his Pick-and-Pop impact (67 percentile) and Slip impact (77 percentile) both a huge help for a young lead guard.

Horford will be playing in lineups where he is the lone big man on the floor, and with the amount of space the Thunder will play with, it will be very conducive to the 34-year-old reshaping his image.

OKC is sitting in a comfortable position with Al Horford. At worst, he is a grizzled vet that compliments and helps grow Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. At best, Thunder GM Sam Presti can deal him in the offseason for an asset. His contract will not be a problem for OKC to hold on to if it comes to that.

However, there are legitimate reasons, beyond just riding high on the Chris Paul trade, to think that Horford will be a flippable asset in a year.

Al found great success at the University of Florida under former Oklahoma City Thunder bench boss Billy Donovan. So much so, that before Kevin Durant departed to Golden State in the Summer of 2016, Horford would’ve signed in Bricktown had KD returned to play under Donovan once again.

As Mark Daigneault steps into the role as head coach in Oklahoma City, I expect the team schematically, to look a lot like a Donovan coached club. We caught a glimpse of it during the squads’ successful 2019-20 campaign, but ideally, Donovan’s style is even more up-tempo, position-less, and includes more motion. Daigneault worked with Donovan at the University of Florida, where he impressed Sam Presti so much that Presti brought him into the Thunder organization as coach of the Blue even before wooing Donovan away from his illustrious college career.

As Al Horford sets out on his personal revenge tour, he will do so in a system that is equipped to help him every step of the way.

Do you think Al Horford can recoup some of his value throughout this season?

NOTE: All Advanced Stats courtesy of B-Ball Index.

Rylan Stiles

Rylan Stiles is the host of the Locked on Thunder podcast, a media member with the Thunder and the NBA, and Founder of BricktownBuckets.com.

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