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Celtics’ Al Horford ranked a spot higher than teammate Kyrie Irving in Sports Illustrated’s Top 100

Al Horford, Kyrie Irving, Celtics

Boston Celtics center Al Horford has climbed the ranks of the Sports Illustrated’s annual Top 100 NBA players list, finishing a spot above his own teammate, Kyrie Irving.

Horford was ranked 16th after leading the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals, falling only a game shy of the NBA Finals during a seven-game series with the LeBron-James-led Cleveland Cavaliers. His ranking isn’t based on stats, as his 12.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game are easily topped by most players in the top 40.

Rob Mahoney, who curated the explanation for this ranking, explained why Horford was ranked at 16th:

“Horford is a patron saint of the Top 100, in that he embodies so many of the attributes we tend to value highly. He plays both sides of the ball without condition, and in a way that makes everyone around him better. His game is both reliable enough to anchor a team and versatile enough to allow for changes on the fly. He fits the modern game.”

While Horford isn’t putting up 20-10s on the daily, he was the lone veteran voice keeping young players like Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum glued to his orders during an unforeseeable postseason run without their two best players.

Irving, ranked at 17th, was sidelined for the entire postseason after opting to have surgery to remove debris from his battered knee, cleaning up the initial procedure he underwent after a 2015 NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Irving’s rating took a dip, much like teammate Gordon Hayward (ranked 25th) and DeMarcus Cousins, who plummeted to 68th after suffering an Achilles tear in early February.