It's that kind of
self-assertion that makes the Hawks think they have found a potential star. The
former Florida standout has the size and strength to give Atlanta some
much-needed muscle down low. Though he's not a big scorer, his ability to
handle the ball and pass should mesh well with the talents of athletic wingmen
Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams and Josh Childress. "He bangs and
rebounds and does good things around the basket," Hawks coach Mike Woodson
says of Horford, "and he's a very confident young man. He doesn't seem to
father, Tito, spent parts of three seasons in the NBA--certainly doesn't show
any fear. At Florida, coach Billy Donovan dubbed him the Godfather for the
respect he engendered, and his quiet but forceful presence was crucial to the
Gators' back-to-back NCAA title runs.
physical and emotional readiness have made him a popular preseason pick for
Rookie of the Year. Fellow rookie Acie Law, a poised point guard from Texas
A&M, also has heard his name mentioned. Either would be the first Hawks
player to be so honored since Bob Pettit in 1955. "Right now I'm thinking
more of team goals," Horford says, "but I feel myself and Acie can come
in and help right away."
Wright and the
other Atlanta veterans might want to start holding a spot on the elevator.
After all, Horford just might be the guy to take them to greater heights.
team's scout sizes up the Hawks
This team is so
bad that you can tell who's taking the first shot simply by whoever gets the
ball in his hands first. . . . Where do we begin with Josh Smith? He'll dunk it
three straight times, and the next time down he'll want to see if he can get
the three-point shot working, so he'll throw one up out of the flow, clank. Or
he'll make some stupid pass into the third row. Or he'll jump in the air and
throw it at somebody's knees. . . . Al Horford has a better chance of being a
successful pro than Smith or either Marvin Williams or Shelden Williams. He
knows what he is, and he sticks with that. . . . Marvin Williams thinks he's a
jump shooter, but he doesn't make jump shots, and he thinks he's a ball
handler, but he's not quick enough to get by people, so he'll run into them and
get called for a charge. . . . They don't have leadership at point guard.
Speedy Claxton is in decline--he may have to change his first name. Acie Law is
a ball-control guy, and he defends. We'll have to see if he's capable of making
plays for the rest of them.
Josh Smith became
the first Hawk to have 200 blocks and 100 steals in the same season. He and the
Nuggets' Marcus Camby, the Defensive Player of the Year, were the only players
to reach both marks in 2006-07.