It seems like these three things are our only guarantees in life: Death, taxes, and a Joel Embiid injury announcement at some point during every NBA season. The injury Joel Embiid sustained has been determined by a specialist to be a tear in his radial collateral ligament in the fourth metacarpal in his left hand, per ESPN's Tim Bontemps. Don't ask me what any of that means, but it doesn't sound good. The typical timeline for this injury can be anywhere from two to five weeks. Drew Brees suffered a very similar injury this season for the New Orleans Saints and missed five games. 
When It Rains, It Pours
The Sixers have been on another rollercoaster ride of a season so far, despite a record of 24-14, the struggles on the road have certainly been no secret (7-12), along with questions surrounding the teams’ energy and effort level on a consistent basis. If only the concerns stopped there. The list of "issues" and debated topics, just to name a few:
  • Ben Simmons lack of development on the offensive end
  • Offensive identity in halfcourt sets
  • Turnovers
  • Team 3 point shooting
  • Depth
  • Coaching: What Can Brown do for you? 

Al Horford Trying to Fit In

There is one "issue" that I intentionally omitted from my list above, Al Horford. Horford has severely struggled to "be himself" so far during his time with the 76ers. While the team is trying to find their identity and get to know each other as players on the floor, Horford has been lost in the process (see what I did there).Playing alongside big man Joel Embiid, who requires an abundance of space, post ups, touches, shot attempts, and Shirley temple drinks, is no walk in the park. Add the adjustment period required when playing alongside a 6'10 point guard who refuses to take a jump shot, I would say Horford has a lot on his plate to say the least. Horford is a guy that does all the little things, he is a player that excels in pick n roll, being used as a point forward, operating in space, around the paint, and playing with his back to the basket. Lets go back to Ben Simmons for a second, opposing teams are able to clog the very same paint Al Horford loves to operate in and around, as well as deny the "space" this team desperately requires, due to Simmons not being an offensive threat outside of 6 feet.

Inside the Numbers

When you take a look at Horfords numbers, you wouldn't think he is struggling or having a down year.

  • 2019/2020: 12.3 PPG / 3.7 APG / 6.5 RPG
  • 2018/2019: 13.6 PPG / 4.2 APG / 6.7 RPG
  • 2017/2018: 12.9 PPG / 4.7 APG / 7.4 RPG
  • Career: 14.0 PPG / 3.3 APG / 8.3 RPG

The average fan will look at the stats above after googling it and say that Horford isn't struggling and that there is not a "fit" concern. Horfords value cant be measured in these stats, you have to take a deeper dive into the advanced metrics, so lets jump in...

Advanced Stats for Horford

There are key advanced metrics that in my opinion , give you a strong understanding of an individual players value. In no particular order...

-PER aka Player Efficiency Rating

Defined: used to measure the effectiveness of a player by taking into consideration all statistics kept by the NBA, and weighs the players production by using minutes played per game, number of team possessions per game. The PER of an average player is typically said to be 15, while an MVP/all time great score would be around 30.

  • Al Horford PER:
  • 2019/2020: 15.7 (second worst of career, worst was rookie year at 14.7)
  • 2018/2019: 20.2
  • 2017/2018: 18
-Assist Percentage:
Defined: An estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted with while he was on the floor
  • Al Horford Assist Percentage:
  • 2019/2020: 17.5%
  • 2018/2019: 21.2%
  • 2017/2018: 24%
-OWS aka Offensive Win Shares
Defined: Estimates the number of wins a player produces for his team due to his offensive ability.
  • Al Horford OWS:
  • 2019/2020: 1.4 (Second worst of career)
  • 2018/2019: 4.5
  • 2017/2018: 4.0
-DWS aka Defensive Win Shares
Defined: Estimates the number of wins a player produces for his team due to his defensive ability.
  • Al Horford DWS:
  • 2019/2020: 1.5
  • 2018/2019: 3.0
  • 2017/2018: 3.8
-WS/48 AKA Win Shares per 48 Minutes
Defined: it is comparable to points per 36 minutes, in that it accounts for minutes played in the equation. Simply put, how many Win Shares a player contributes per game. It is equal to WAR in baseball, where it indicates the players total contribution to their team. WS/48 is a stat that simplifies the number of win shares a player produces every 48 minutes
  • Al Horford WS/48:
  • 2019/2020: .134 (second lowest of career, rookie year was worst at .103)
  • 2018/2019: .181 (second highest of career)
  • 2017/2018: .170
With Embiid out for an extended period of time, the silver lining will be Al Horford. Horford is one of the most valuable players in the entire NBA. With his worth often times not found in the box score. I expect Horford to show the city what he is really capable of while Embiid is out with this injury. Now the bigger question is, will he be able to continue to show the city what he is capable of when Embiid returns and through the postseason?Unfortunately, there is no advanced metric stat I can dig up to help answer that, only time will tell...
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