Today could bring a couple of items that may excite Hawks fans, even if it occurs on different levels.
First comes the revealing of the NBA All-Star Reserves, which may include two, one or no selections for the team. Joe Johnson looks to continue his All-Star streak, now sitting at five in a row, and it would be terribly ironic of Johnson was left off the team this season, one in which he is playing better and theoretically more deserving of a spot than in years past.
Johnson's averages of 18.6 points, 3.6 assists and 3.9 rebounds entering Wednesday's game are similar to his numbers from last season. He's been a more efficient scorer and also a better defender, according to game-tracking statistics accumulated by Synergy Sports Technology.
Johnson's main competition for the spot could come from the selection of more point guards rather than take a second shooting guard and Cavaliers rookie Kyrie Irving is the popular choice in the field. Selecting Irving, who plays on a 10-14 Cleveland team, would be a departure in terms of history -- players from teams with losing records almost always lose out to key players, especially if statistically qualified, to players on winning teams.
The other Hawk on the edge is Smith, who missed out on going two seasons ago when he was worthy of inclusion and has stepped up big time with the injury of Al Horford, who made the All-Star team the past two seasons. When I asked Smith about getting good news this week, he held up his hand and crossed his fingers. This is very important validation for him and, according to that AJC story from Michael, he would "be estatic" if selected.
Smith's plus athleticism is custom made for an exhibition like the All-Star game, but his metrics show that, while he is among the top at his position, there is no clear case to differentiate himself and players around him statistically (Ryan Anderson, Carlos Boozer, Kevin Garnett) also play on winning teams.
Big Man Coming?
Some might be excited to know that the Hawks may yet sign a big man to offset the loss of Horford and Designated Dwight Howard defender Jason Collins. Erick Dampier was seen in Atlanta and, according to a Fox Sports report,may have been more than just visiting the Aquarium.
-The Hawks might have found that extra big man they've been looking for. Veteran 7-footer Erick Dampier was in town Wednesday and took a physical with the team.
Dampier is in his Age 36 season and fell off considerably from his established statistical levels with Miami last season. Still, he represents a considerable upgrade, even at those fallen levels, from Collins and if he can approach the 17 percent defensive rebounding rate and the 4.5 block rate, these would fill a considerable void in the Hawks rotation/skill sets.