Sunday, February 27, 2011 Palmer: Who's Better: Aldridge or Horford?

Ahead of tonight's Hawks/Trailblazers game on ESPN, Chris Palmer compares the relative merits of Al Horford and LaMarcus Aldridge (Insider). The verdict:
As skilled as Horford is, his best fit will always be as a third option who can give his team consistently strong defensive play and much needed hustle. And that's exactly what he does. With Aldridge embracing the role of franchise player and making good on his vast potential, he leaves Horford behind on the NBA's second tier while he looks to join the elite class of players in the game.


Bronnt said...

Yeah, I'm not too terribly excited about any analysis that calls Horford a third option at best, and insists he's a second tier player.

One thing I will give LaMarcus Aldridge is that he, like Joe Johnson, does a solid job of not turning the ball over excessively while being a high usage player. He certainly has some value. Horford does almost everything else better, even much better.

lukas said...

What are your thoughts, Brett?

I expected you to come out guns a-blazing in response.

Since I don't know too much about Aldridge's game, I'll ask about something I know a bit more about.

How big is the sample size that demonstrates how Horford can't consistently carry a team on the offensive side, i.e., situations in which Jamal and Joe aren't standing on the perimeter dominating the offensive action?

Does a franchise player have to shoot a lot? I consistently read in these pages that the Atlanta offense is highly efficient when run through Al in the post. Am I missing something or did Mr Palmer?

Bret LaGree said...

lukas --

I think it's perfectly reasonable for a national writer to assume that a winning team is putting its best players to their best use and, because Joe Johnson and Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford all use more possessions than Horford, Al hasn't yet taken on the scoring load that Aldridge handles quite well.

Plus, I'm aware that some of the impressive things Horford does defensively (defending guards on the perimeter, in particular) may not be that valuable in a normal context.

I had a good conversation with Chris about this piece this week and, though I would not come to the same conclusion as he did, it's also true that, though the evidence suggests Horford, if used more offensively and paired effectively with teammates both bigger and smaller in the post rotation, could be a near-franchise player, that conclusion is also part optimistic projection.

If you have access to Insider, I'd recommend the whole piece as it seriously considers both players pretty thoroughly and also because it references Bet It Hit Rim #5.