This isn’t MSU related, but figured it might be of interest to some of our readers that are in tune with things in the Lansing area and enjoy the NBA.
I had a chance to catch up with Grand Ledge native Al Horford, who is playing for the Atlanta Hawks. Horford is back in Michigan as the Hawks take on the Pistons tonight at The Palace.
Horford was the third overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft and has been a two-time all-star for the Hawks. He’s averaging 16.0 points and 9.6 rebounds and ranks sixth in the NBA with 16 double-doubles this season.
There will be a story in the coming days, but here is some stuff from the interview.
On the season so far
Horford: “It’s been great. We’re a focused group and we’re trying to make the best of the situation that we have. Coach (Larry) Drew has been doing a good job with us and keeping us fresh and focused and we’re trying to establish ourselves in the East.”
On keys to strong start for the Hawks
Horford: I just think it’s the fact that everybody understands kind of what their job is on the team and I think that we’re all playing with each other offensively and we’re helping each other on defense. I think that’s what it’s all about. That’s kind of been our situation and what has helped is that coach has simplified a lot of our offense/defense for a lot of the new guys. We have a new team, most of the guys on the team are new. I think that he has done a good job by making everything simpler and easy and we’re just able to go out and just play on the court and be OK.”
On how the Hawks can sustain early-season success
Horford: “It’s a hard thing to do, especially when you have teams night in and night out coming to battle and any given night any team can beat you so you have to make sure that you take care of those games that you’re supposed to win and things like that. The whole thing is taking it a game at a time and a week at a time and not jumping too far ahead of ourselves and just realizing we’ve only played 30 games. So we have a long ways to go with the season.”
On having to miss most of the 2011-12 season with the torn pectoral muscle
Horford: “It was tough but I think that it gave me an opportunity to step back and look at the team without me and give me a chance to grow as a player and just kind of see how the game is being played and kind of study the game more I guess I should say. And also it made me appreciate the game even more. Now that I’m back I feel that I’m much more driven – I’ve always been driven and motivated, I think that I appreciate it even more now. I just want to make the most of my time here.”
On how beneficial having an opportunity to see things from a different prospective was
Horford: “It’s very beneficial because I think that you’re in the NBA and you’re in it for a few years and you kind of think that you have a lot of things figured out. And you realize there is little things that make a big difference in games whether its defensively, especially defensively. That was one of things that I really took back and looked at was whether its angles defensively, guarding pick and rolls and little things like that that a lot of people don’t even notice . I was able to apply it now that I’m back and they’ve made a big difference with me in games. It’s things like that are the things that I was able to kind of learn while I was away. I’m applying them now and I see a benefit. I see myself as a better player because of it.”
On where he’s at as a player
Horford: “I think that offensively I’m still improving. I truly feel that way. One of the things for me is just to kind of go in and trying to look at ways that I can be more efficient for our team and whether its giving that extra pass or whether its be more assertive on my jump shot. Just things like that that impact the offensive end and things that impact winning. We’re looking at film, were trying to find ways to get better so that’s kind of where I’m at right now. I’m just in a position to do whatever it takes to help us win.”
On how this team stacks up to others he’s played on as far as having a chance to win a title
Horford: “Potential wise I feel like in the past we’ve had teams with a lot of talent. I think this year it’s different. The way that we’re taking it is we’re trying to be the best team that we can be. I don’t know if that means championship level basketball. What I do know is that we are gonna play hard, we are improving since the season started and that’s something that is very encouraging to me. By the end of the year if we’re playing at that level, you never know what can happen. I think the only thing we can do is just keep playing hard and keep working and just keep trying to get better.”