David Thorpe: Al Horford Just Passed Kevin Durant

Atlanta's Horford is, for the moment, ahead of Durant in David Thorpe's rookie rankings (Insider). Part of Thorpe's explanation:

Durant really struggles with the concept, and the practice, of the second defender. He appears to be too narrowly focused on getting a shot over or around his defender, neglecting to consider that ultimately, his shot could be easily blocked or affected by that second guy, thus driving down his shooting percentages even further.

The result is Durant suffers very poor shooting games -- 2-of-12, 7-of-21 (twice), 5-of-20, 6-of-26. ...

Horford is not having a great season in any statistical category, either, except for rebounding. He has scored 15 or more points only once in 2008. The center is shooting less than 48 percent from the field and less than 66 percent from the line. And he blocks fewer shots than Durant.

But a deeper look suggests he is indeed playing the best, from November until today, of all the rookies. He had 10 rebounds in his first game as a pro and never has let up; he still is averaging 10 boards a game. ... Unlike Durant, though, Horford provides so much that isn't reflected in the stat sheets. Racing back on defense to thwart a fastbreak. Helping and recovering on defense. Setting very solid screens on offense. Making easy plays on both ends, limiting mistakes and letting his -- and his teammates' -- talents shine through.