At the time of writing, Al Horford has never received a Defensive Player of the Year vote, let alone an award. In fact, he hasn't received even so much as one single solitary fourth place vote.
This, patently, is ludicrous. Despite less than ideal size for the centre spot, Horford defends the bejeezus out of it, playing foul-free post defense with good hands, solid rebounding and few mistakes, rotating well and being willing and able to help from the weakside. He also defends the perimeter better than every other centre in the game; we know this to be true, because Mike Woodson let him demoinstrate it 155 times a game.
And it's not just defensively, either. Offensively, Horford is a good mid-range shooter, occasional post-up option, a good finisher, a very good free throw shooter, and a fine passer. He has the handles to lead the break, the athleticism and desire to run the court, and the skills to finish shots. And he never makes mistakes, either; Horford can't do everything, but he doesn't do the things he can't do. He is exceedingly efficient and quietly exceptional.
Of course, that's largely the problem. Because Hoford doesn't do things loudly, brashly, extravagantly or overwhelmingly athletically - and because he doesn't have the biggest platform on which to do them - he goes largely overlooked. We all know he's good, but we don't all know that he's very very good. It is ridiculous that a defensive player of his calibre has never receivd a vote (regardless of how insignificant the concept is, he should still get what is rightfully his), but it's the way he is. He is perennially underrated.
(He might be overrated by the time you read this, though. It happens to all underrated players eventually.)
- 22nd November, 2010.