When the Denver Nuggets were eliminated from the 2024 NBA playoffs, there was much excitement among fans and analysts alike that there will be a new superstar crowned as champion. Now, with the Boston Celtics having advanced to the Finals along with the Dallas Mavericks, the possibility of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown or Luka Doncic hoisting their first Larry O'Brien trophy has piqued the interest of many. But along with those three, winning a championship would mean so much for Al Horford, the 38-year old ageless wonder who's in the last legs of his career.

Horford, however, is no mere passenger on a championship team. He has remained an invaluable member of the Celtics roster; with Kristaps Porzingis missing the majority of the NBA playoffs, the veteran big man has stepped up as the team's starting center. In fact, the Celtics, perhaps in an attempt not to disrupt the team's rhythm as well as to handle Porzingis with some caution, have started Horford through the first two games of the 2024 NBA Finals as well.

In the Celtics' 105-98 Game 2 win, Al Horford put up a stat line of five points, seven rebounds, and one steal. And in so doing, Horford has surpassed Bob Pettit in all-time playoff scoring, Dwight Howard in all-time playoff rebounds, and Allen Iverson in all-time playoff steals, as per HoopsHype. Horford now ranks 51st in playoff points total (with 2,245), 18th in rebounds (with 1,478), and 57th in steals (147).

Of course, it's important to note that Horford has played in 183 playoff games and he should be a lock to play in at least two more for the Celtics. He is the second in all-time postseason games played among active players and he's currently 16th overall — and a guarantee to finish 15th (as long as he stays healthy for the rest of the 2024 NBA Finals).

But is his longevity amid a wildly successful NBA career enough for the Celtics veteran to make it to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame when he hangs it up in a few years?

Dissecting the Celtics veteran's Hall of Fame candidacy

At present, Al Horford's Hall of Fame probability, courtesy of Basketball Reference, isn't too promising. His chances of making it to Springfield are pegged at 12 percent, which is only 27th among active players. He, in fact, is more unlikely to make the Hall of Fame, at least according to the statistic, than Finals opponent Luka Doncic, who is at 41.2 percent, and Celtics teammate Jayson Tatum, who is at 17.7 percent.

But Horford has been an instrumental part of plenty of winning teams, and he has also racked up a few accolades along the way. He made the All-Star team five times, made the All-NBA Third Team and the All-NBA Defensive Team once each. Horford has also made the playoffs in 16 of his 17 seasons in the NBA, with the only year he missed out on the festivities being 2021, when he was with the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder.

However, Al Horford's counting stats in the regular season are not very impressive, at least relative to other Hall of Fame candidates. He has 14,167 career points and 8,574 total rebounds in 1078 games, which are good for averages of 13.1 points and 8.0 rebounds — numbers that don't exactly jump off the page.

Of course, stats aren't the be-all, end-all of one's Hall of Fame candidacy. The stamp they left on the game matters as well. For instance, Ben Wallace made the Hall of Fame for being one of the best defensive players in history, racking up four DPOYs and five All-NBA selections — accolades that dwarf Horford's.

Perhaps the differentiator for Horford's HOF candidacy is his body of work during his collegiate days. He won back-to-back national championships with Florida back in 2006 and 2007. Moreover, his legacy as a winner could be cemented should the Celtics finish off the Mavericks in this year's NBA Finals. He also deserves credit for adjusting his game with the times (developing a three-point shot), being one of the most reliable defensive players in history, as well as staving off decline after he looked washed when he was with the Philadelphia 76ers.

It may take Horford some time to be enshrined in Springfield; his lacking accolades, numbers, and stamp on the game relative to other HOFers may make it difficult for him to make it in on the first ballot. He may be climbing the all-time playoff statistical ladder, but that is mostly due to the number of postseason games he has suited up in. But there is reason to believe that he will eventually get there, being a winner throughout his career who could finally get his due trophy if the Celtics win it all later this month.