Horford on pace to set career best in 3-pointers in only 10 games

Al Horford didn’t hesitate.

The Hawks center let a top-of-the-arc 3-pointer go in his team’s first possession of an exhibition game against the Grizzlies last month. Memphis coach Dave Joerger looked at Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, smiled and asked “Really? Already?”

The long-distance shot has continued into the regular season. The Horford 3-pointer has been an added wrinkle to the Hawks’ offense –one three seasons in the making.

“The first year he watched how the team played and the spacing of the offense and the opportunities in the offense started to plant the notion that this could be helpful to us,” said Budenholzer, in his third year at the Hawks’ helm. “Last year, he started to do it some. Now, he spent the whole summer working on it and gaining confidence. I think he’s there.”

The Hawks center is on a pace to smash his season mark for most 3-pointers in a season in less than 10 games. Horford is 5 of 18 from 3-point range this season. He was a career-best in makes (11) and attempts (36) last season. He’s halfway to besting those statistics after four games going into Tuesday’s game against the Heat.

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Most read

  1. 1 21 Savage faces felony charge in South Georgia
  2. 2 Bulldogs’ Lanning, Schumann to share defensive coordinator role
  3. 3 Trump signs funding bill to avoid government shutdown, declares emerge

Horford’s .278 shooting percentage from long range dropped after an 0 for 5 game against the Hornets on Sunday. Both Horford and Budenholzer were comfortable with the attempts. Horford took five 3-pointers in each of the past three games. He never attempted more than two a game in his previous eight seasons.

“It’s been a process,” Horford said. “All summer I’ve worked on it some but now that the season is here, now that we have games, you get a better feel for it. I think the biggest thing for me is coach is confident in allowing me to do it. I feel good shooting it so it’s something I’ll keep working on.”

Under Budenholzer, Horford is 20 of 65 from 3-point range, including his first season when he was limited to 29 games before a season-ending pectoral injury. In his first six seasons, he was a cumulative 6 of 18.

The interesting fact about Horford’s increased 3-point attempts is where they have come from around the arc. Nine of his attempts (three makes) have come from straight on and four attempts (one make) have come from the top left and right of the arc. He has five attempts (one make) from the corners, a shot he began working on last season. Those straight-on attempts have caught the opposition by surprise.

“We feel good when Al is getting his shots, where he is getting them and how much space he is getting,” Budenholzer said. “Obviously, he didn’t make them the other night in Charlotte but he and I visited about it. They are good shots. We want him to shoot them. He looks very confident and comfortable. It’s a way for us to be harder to guard. We still want to get to the basket. We still want to collapse the defense and get to the free-throw line. When you have more space, you can do that.”

The key to the addition to Horford’s repertoire is for the 3-pointer not to come at the expense of his mid-range game. He has one of the league’s premier mid-range jump shot for a center. The pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll game between point guard Jeff Teague and Horford are staples of the offense. Horford said is working on recognizing when pull up and when to go to the basket.

“I just want to be prepared to do all three things,” Horford said. “If you look at our offense, there are times when (the opposition) is giving me that shot, that top-of-the-key 3. Then there are some other times when I have to read (the defense) and make sure I pick-and-pop or that I just roll. It’s just making sure I have balance.”

More from AJC