Mar 31, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Ivan Johnson (44) dunks during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers defeated the Hawks 95-90. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Ivan Johnson was one of the most surprising players in the entire NBA this season. A story of a "no name" that had little chance on making the roster but later on, proving to be worthy enough to be a good role player off the bench for a playoff team, was one of my favorite story lines.
When the training camp roster was announced, and Ivan Johnson's name was on it along with the names such as: Pape Sy, Magnum Rolle, Keith Benson, Jerry Stackhouse, Donald Sloan, and Brad Wannamaker, I thought this "no name" had no chance on making the team.
With only 3 roster spots open and the Hawks lacking guard depth and veteran leadership, keeping Stackhouse and Sloan was understandable. Meaning, that left one spot for an extra big man for Ivan Johnson, Keith Benson, and Magnum Rolle to compete for.
Hawks fans were initially pretty intrigued by Keith Benson's potential and Magnum Rolle's raw talent, so I thought that Ivan Johnson wouldn't make the team. Lo and behold, Johnson beat out both Benson and Rolle for that spot.
Waiving your current 2nd round pick (Benson) and a Free Agent you signed prior to the end of the last season (Rolle) for a player that hasn't proven anything (Johnson) was eyebrow-raising, but as it turned out, the Hawks made the correct move.
Ivan Johnson became the best big man off the bench for the Hawks (this season, since Zaza was starting), and he helped Pachulia carry the load that Horford left when he went down with a pectoral injury. Without Ivan Johnson, the Hawks would have been stuck with Collins and Dampier being the back-up big man.
So in behalf of everyone, we salute you Ivan Johnson, and we wish you the best wherever you may go.
Positives: Played his butt off every time he stepped on the floor. Ran the floor like a deer. Quick off his feet. Boxed out well. Had a nice mid-range game. Able to finish with either hand (here and here). Provided a lot of "get out of your seat" worthy highlights (like here, here, here, and here).
Negatives: Undersized when asked to play the Center position. Had trouble guarding longer players. Lost his cool at times (only a total of 3 technical fouls all season though).
Best Moment/Game: Hard to pick one, had a lot of great games. You could go with his pre-season game that earned him a spot on the team, when he scored 15 points in 7-11 shooting while grabbing 8 rebounds. You could go with his "breakout" game when he scored 13 points in 5-7 shooting on a national stage against the Miami Heat. You could go with his 8 for 8 from the free throw line game against Minnesota. You could go with his 14 and 13 game in 25 minutes against Philadelphia. You could go with his perfect game when he went 7 for 7 from the field for 17 points against Milwaukee. You could go with his season high 21 points in 9-13 shooting against Toronto.
Ivan Johnson had plenty of good games and good moments. It's hard to pick just one.
Final Grade: A-
Random Youtube Video: Ivan Johnson is all about "hard work" and "energy".
Exit Question: Is Ivan Johnson a piece for the future?
Full Roster Review
Jannero Pargo: Click Here.
Vladimir Radmanovic: Click Here.
Jerry Stackhouse: Click Here.
Jason Collins: Click Here.
Erick Dampier: Click Here.