Surely by now you have read the article from Sekou Smith regarding the need for a leader to step forth (an HHB interpretation).
We believe that the leader lay already within the nest of this young team, ready to lead, ready to speak, but possibly unable to do so at this time.
This leader, as the title already informs, is Al Horford.
Horford is the player with championship experience, albeit at the collegiate level. Horford is the player with the energy, ability, and apparent desire to lead this team to higher heights.
We all remember that it was Horford who famously told Paul Pierce, the Paul Pierce, to stay down (Rated: PG) when the Hawks were taking another game from the eventual champs. Everybody around the club were raving about the rookie's obvious leadership abilities and his winning attitude.
Our question begin with where have those moments been in this series? Where has that been all season? What could have distracted Horford from taking his place as the mouthpiece for the team---to lead his teammates by example?
There have no been no articles about Horford taking the lead on this team since last season and we had to start asking---why?
In no particular order:
1. His Coaches
It has been made completely clear that the team does not value Horford as a leader on the floor, or the game would be moved in his direction considerably more than it currently does. Time after time Horford is made to "get his" by cleaning up after the mishaps of others. That we saw numerous bench players from our opponents get more plays called for them in the post than Al this season speaks to the importance the coaching staff places on such options (specifically Al's) on offense.
This is a guy that the Gators rode to back-to-back championships---he can be well trusted with the ball in the low or high posts. It's possible that Woodson is so unaccustomed to trusting a second year player with such a role that isn't named LeBron or Kobe that the idea is "he isn't ready".
2. His Teammates
And it's not like his teammates are screaming for him to get the ball--or to expand his role beyond the "good boy" submissive role he is currently asked to employ. The game can be run through him, but perhaps others aren't comfortable in such an arrangement. Maybe a similar fate befell Josh Childress when he wanted to be more than the "energy" and "sixth man" labels he wore with the Hawks.
Submission is a heck of a thing, and Al could be the type that is allowing the players that have been here longer (Joe Johnson, Josh Smith) to be the leaders of the team and that it's not "his place". Those players themselves might even contribute to that by the fact that they don't follow Al's lead when he begins to get vocal.
Also, he may be affected by the coaches lack of interest in giving him more of the responsibility of the game plan. Young players are prone to following a coaches opinion of a player--even one as talented as Al.
All of that needs to be rectified, because the Hawks need a leader---and Al is the only personality and talent that fit the bill. The Hawks need this to happen immediately---read: Game Four---for them to be able to get control back of this series from Miami.
Joe Johnson is a better player, Josh Smith is more talented, Marvin Williams drafted higher, and Mike Bibby is older and more experienced, but Al is the ticket---and he and his team need to bring his abilities forward so that the Hawks can take the series and fill a role that is currently vacant.