Nov 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford (15) celebrates a victory against the Dallas Mavericks in the fourth quarter at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Mavericks 88-87. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Hawks need Al Horford healthy

The Atlanta Hawks looked like one of the top three or four teams in the Eastern Conference early in the 2013-2014 season. However, an injury to center Al Horford ended any real chance the Hawks had to advance out of the first round (although they did push the Indiana Pacers to seven games).

In order to improve, the Hawks must have a healthy Horford.

As his injury created opportunity, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver all rose to the challenge. With Horford expected back and healthy, the Hawks could be significantly better this season than they were last year.

The problem is Horford has had some nagging injuries over the last three seasons that make him far from reliable.

For the Hawks to improve on last year, they will need Horford to be Horford and stay healthy. That is far from a given and could be the biggest question lingering around the Hawks when camp opens.

With a healthy Horford teaming up with big man Paul Millsap, point guard Jeff Teague and swingman Kyle Korver, the Hawks are a legitimate threat to at least get out of the first round of the playoffs.

Horford averaged 18.6 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 56.7% from the field, 36.4% from beyond the arc and 68.2% from the charity stripe. In his seven-year career, the third-overall pick in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft, has put up 14.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 54.1% from the floor, 34.5% from three and 73.5% from the charity stripe.

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Tags: Al Horford Atlanta Hawks

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