The signing of Sixers’ big man Al Horford has come under much criticism this past year and it has, in most cases, been warranted.

Horford has not exactly been the veteran presence the team needs, nor has he been able to play off of his fellow big men on the team. The fan speculation of whether or not the Sixers would attempt to move off of Al has been prevalent since about the trade deadline this past season. However, Horford is still a Sixer and could very well be on this team moving forward next year.

If that is the case we will need to be real with ourselves about what our expectations of Al will be.

Towards the end of the regular season, before the Ben Simmons injury, Al actually transitioned to the bench rather gracefully. Horford seemed to embrace the backup power forward/center role he was given and played well with the second unit. Having a reliable player to take the backup minutes from Joel Embiid and play off of Tobias Harris worked well for Al and the Sixers. And while Horford is not a defender of Joel’s caliber, he is capable of guarding the bottom half of starting centers of the league and/or the centers who prefer to play on the perimeter.

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What Al should not be asked to do is to play starter’s minutes, play late into games, and guard players he is incapable of guarding. During the playoffs, Al Horford should have been nowhere near Jaylen Brown. The issue there, of course, was that there was no Ben Simmons and Al was having to play alongside Joel Embiid. Ideally, that won’t have to happen for extended periods of time and Al won’t have to be matched up with players he cannot guard.

In general, Al should be treated as a role player for the Sixers going forward. That role is a very important one, in that he will be playing alongside some of the starters, and backing up Joel Embiid. Al seems to be able to handle this role in the limited time we have seen it, but we will all need a larger sample size.

If the Sixers and new coach Doc Rivers can keep Al’s role with the team simple, he may be able to work with the team going forward. Of course, free agency will tell us a lot about Al’s true role going forward. As it currently stands, however, this is how he should be used within the team.

What do you think about Al Horford moving forward?

Featured Image: Getty Images
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