On May 31, 2022, FS1’s “Undisputed” did a segment in which Nick Wright listed the top eight players who have the most to gain by winning the 2022 NBA Championship going from eight to one. Wright started the list with Al Horford at number eight. Wright elaborated that he picked Horford there because winning the title would earn him a spot in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
“If the Celtics win the title, Al Horford’s going to make the Hall of Fame,” Wright said. “I don’t agree with this (and) I don’t think it should happen, but I guarantee it will… Put his resume next to Reggie Miller then remind yourself that his college championships count.”
Horford won back-to-back championships when he played for the Florida Gators in 2006 and 2007 along with Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, Chris Richard, and Taurean Green. The five of them all went into the NBA the following season although only Horford, Noah, and Brewer outlasted their rookie contracts.
While the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame usually inducts players who thrived at a professional level first and foremost, their success in college also plays a factor in their candidacy. If Horford wins an NBA Championship with the Boston Celtics to go along with the two NCAA Championships he already has, that will help his case considerably.
Celtics Who Have Won Both in College and in the Pros
If Al Horford wins a championship with the Celtics, he will join the following Celtics who have won basketball titles at the collegiate and professional levels.
-Bill Russell (NCAA: 1955, 1956, NBA: 1957, 1959-1966, 1968, 1969)
-Bob Cousy (NCAA: 1947, NBA: 1957, 1969-1963)
-John Havlicek (NCAA: 1960, NBA: 1963-1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976)
-K.C. Jones (NCAA: 1955, 1956, NBA: 1959-1966)
-Frank Ramsey (NCAA: 1951, NBA: 1957, 1959-1964)
-Bill Walton (NCAA: 1972, 1973, NBA: 1977, 1986)
-Clyde Lovellette (NCAA: 1952, NBA: 1954, 1963, 1964)
-Tom Thacker (NCAA: 1961, 1962, NBA: 1968)
-Quinn Buckner (NCAA: 1976, NBA: 1984)
-Antoine Walker (NCAA: 1996, NBA: 2006)
-Jason Terry (NCAA: 1997, NBA: 2011)
Note that while all of these players played for the Celtics at some point in their career at minimum, some of them won an NBA Championship on a different team. Walker won the title with the Miami Heat in 2006 while Terry won the title with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011.
Horford’s Defensive Impact on the 2021-22 Celtics
It’s difficult to statistically quantify how impactful one player is the defensive side of the floor. There are various metrics out there that measure how good a player is defensively, but often times, those metrics can contradict one another, thus bringing into question how foolproof they are.
Quantifying Horford’s defensive impact starts at looking at where the Celtics’ defensive rating was last season compared to this season. According to NBA.com, Boston’s defensive rating was 111.8 last season, good for 13th overall in the NBA. This season, Boston’s defensive rating was 106.2, good for first overall in the NBA.
Getting Horford back had something to do with that. In fact, BBall Index provided an informative graph of how impactful Horford has been on the defensive end this season.
For context, BBall Index uses the LEBRON metric, which is an acronym for, according to their website, “Luck-adjusted player Estimate using a Box prior Regularized ON-off.” The metric used here is D-LEBRON, or, in their words, Defensive Impact per 100 possessions. According to this graph, Horford had his most defensively impactful season as a center in a Boston uniform, and was near the top of the league among centers.