Al Horford among four Atlanta Hawks in Sports Illustrated top 100


The NBA season is rapidly approaching, and with that, the major sporting outlets are beginning to gather “preview” materials. With that in mind, Sports Illustrated’s Rob Mahoney and Ben Golliver have started the process of ranking the top 100 players in the league for the 2014-2015 season, and four members of the Atlanta Hawks, headlined by Al Horford, make the cut.

Here is what Rob Mahoney said about Horford, who landed at the 25th spot in the rankings:

"Horford has been off the NBA radar after missing the final four months of last season with a torn pectoral muscle. Now healthy, he returns to provide the Hawks a worthy foundation.So much of what Atlanta runs was schemed with Horford in mind. His post play and passing offer an inlet for a team of perimeter shooters; his balance between pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll keeps the offense flowing and varied; his solid all-around defensive play covers for failings elsewhere; his ability to guard centers allows the Hawks access to lineup combinations that compete defensively while maximizing their offensive potential. More succinctly, Atlanta draws heavily on the fact that Horford is essentially a player without weakness.With his complete game, Horford can play either power forward or center in almost any system. Horford belongs to the rare subset of big men who can both carry a defense and credibly space the floor (he hit 49.2 percent of his mid-range shots last season and even made a few corner threes). He is hyper-flexible for the purposes of roster construction, allowing his team to chase the best frontcourt partner available without concern of fit. Atlanta opted to sign Paul Millsap, but one could just as easily place Horford alongside a big man of any kind. His game is eminently agreeable, which for a player of such remarkable skill makes Horford quite a catch.The Horford-led Hawks started the season by winning 16 of 29 games and posting the 10th-best net rating. Horford has the functional skills to be the best player (or a close 1B) on a very good team, particularly if he can continue to score at the same rate (20.2 points per 36 minutes) and efficiency he showed through 29 games."

In general, Horford’s contributions are systematically underrated by the more “casual” fan, but it shows a great deal of respect for SI to list him among the game’s 25 best players after an injury-plagued campaign. In addition to Horford, the duo ranks Paul Millsap (34th), Kyle Korver (74th) and Jeff Teague (92nd) among the top 100, with DeMarre Carroll mentioned on the list of players who narrowly missed the cut.

What do you think of the list? Are the Atlanta Hawks players too high? Too low? Tell us in the comments below.