Forget the 76ers well-documented issues with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Al Horford has become a bigger problem — a $109 million problem.
Despite Simmons’ absence, Horford played a season-low 19 minutes in Thursday’s come-from-behind win over the Nets, coming off the bench for the second straight game. He registered a minus-26 rating. When off the floor, the Nets outscored the Nets 79-45.
“It’s what the team needs right now, and that’s what we’re doing,” Horford said, according to PhillyVoice.com, about coming off the bench. “I didn’t really give it much thought to be honest, I’m just refreshed being back and ready for the second half of the season.”
Coach Brett Brown said he will use the next 7-10 games to get a set rotation, which means Horford might not return to the starting lineup anytime soon. The veteran forward is averaging 11.9 points and 6.6 rebounds in 30.6 minutes per game. His scoring output is the second-lowest it has been since he broke into the league and the rebounding is a career-low.
The addition of Horford, who signed a four-year, $109 million contract this offseason, was supposed to give the 76ers one of the best frontcourts in basketball, a dynamic trio that would be difficult to match up with. Yet, they find themselves with the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 35-21, six games in the loss column behind the Raptors in the Atlantic Division. They have struggled offensively, in part due to lack of spacing.
According to The Ringer, the 76ers jump from a net rating of minus-1.1 in 480 minutes Horford and Embiid are on the court to plus-7.6 in 707 minutes with just Embiid. The two have averaged 14.3 minutes per game together and had the worst offensive rating (98.7) of any two 76ers teammates that have played together for at least 300 minutes, NBCSports.com reported.
“Obviously as a group and as a team, we’re still trying to figure out and see what works best,” forward Tobias Harris said. “Just to have that mentality and be able to do what could be a great move for our team and see if it works, that shows a winning attitude, winning mentality, and we’ll see if it works.”