For some strange reason I like the Atlanta Hawks. Always have. I’m a huge fan of Josh Smith (aka J-Smoove) but I came to the conclusion about 2 years ago that he will never pan out to be a big time scorer, and as we all know, you have to have one of those to win close playoff games (unless you have one of those teams like Detroit had a few years ago and I’m sure we all agree that is not the case with Atlanta). You have to have that one player that can always get a quality shot off. One that can create for himself and for others on the team. A cold blooded, no holds barred, score on anybody type.
Is that guy Joe Johnson?
Atlanta should get by Miami without Joe Cool having to step up any more than usual. In my humble opinion, Atlanta is better than Miami by 3 and a half starters and a sixth man. Good thing Marvin Williams is hurt or it would be even worse. I will give J.O. the benefit of the doubt and say he is better than Horford if he shows up to play, but outside of him and D.Wade, Miami is at a huge disadvantage. If it weren’t for the spectacular play of Flash all season long, the Heat would be as good (or should I say as bad) as last season. They remind me a lot of my Lakers the first few years after the Shaq trade. They sucked and everybody was aware of it but having Kobe was just enought to keep the dream alive. Let’s be honest though, Miami is dreaming if they think they can do anything other than possibly upsetting the Hawks.
For the sake of my article, let’s assume Atlanta will win. They will face Cleveland in the next round. A team that is clearly better than Atlanta and arguably better than every other team in the NBA as well. They are a very physical, desciplined, defensive minded team, unlike the Miami team that they are playing right now. Of course both Josh Smith and one of the PGs will have to step up (I assume it will be Flip Murray because there is no way in hell that Bibby can slow down Mo Williams), but ultimately, this is the time for Joe Cool to shine. This is the reason why Atlanta acquired him in the first place. Okay, he averaged 20 points in the regular season…big deal. Every team has someone averaging 20 points, that doesn’t qualify him for elite status. You have to win something that you are not suppose to win or even in the case of Chicago, put up a valiant fight, get close, go out swinging, something. I do give him a little credit for the Boston series last year, he did play exceptional in stretches but I’m not totally convinced that he is an exceptional player. Going heads up with the King should determine that. Even if/when Lebron outshines him, which more than likely will happen, can Joe shine in his own light. Can Joe keep his team competing, can Joe keep them motivated, or will they hang their heads after Cleveland beat them in game 1 in Cleveland by 25 points.
What does Joe Johnson have to do to be considered a superstar or to reach elite status? To tell you the truth, I’m not sure but I will know when I see it.