"4. Josh Smith, Atlanta. Speaking of putting it altogether, a la Bosh. Smith abandoned the three (for the most part) and took over the paint. His field goal percentage is outrageous (56 percent, compared with 45 percent career), his rebounding has been stellar and he has regained the indefatigable blocking spirit missing from the soulless but successful '08-09 campaign. It's like the exclamatory Smith from Atlanta's lean years has found a way to exist within the framework of team success. And it is GLORIOUS."
"12. Joe Johnson, Atlanta. That Johnson's best pro season has coincided with Atlanta's leap up the leaderboard is not coincidence. J.J. has basically been a more gunner-y, less stopper-ish Roy. One could argue he belongs way up this list (like, say, alongside Roy), but Atlanta's backcourt is giving up as many open looks as the frontcourt (anchored by Smith and stout Al Horford), and while Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford are leading suspects J.J. is not immune from rotating late."
"People had us winning the championship last year when we got off to that 6-0 start," Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson said and then laughed. "Everybody needs to calm down and just keep working. It’s a long season, man. Every coach I’ve ever had tells you that [the season] is a marathon and not a sprint. And that’s true. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve got to play with urgency. But you also have to keep the season in perspective."
The first play of every game, the Hawks run a pin-down for Joe. Like clockwork. At the end of every game, the ball is always in Joe’s hands. He’s rarely flashy, just steady. He’ll cross you over, pull up and drain the J. Whenever the ball leaves his hands to go to a teammate, it’s a little unsettling.
Is Joe Johnson the 20th best player in the NBA? At least. He’s the best player on one of the 8 best teams in the NBA. Without Joe Johnson, the Hawks aren’t what they are right now. For better and for worse. It is what it is.
Some of you may disagree. But I’ll disagree with you. And I’m right.
Last year, yeah, I burnt guys. I have to try and play Joe differently this year. I look at the Lakers and what they did by getting Ron Artest, and all I can think is that Kobe is going to be a beast this year because he won't have to guard the other team's best player this year. Artest can handle that. Somehow I have to relieve Joe of having to guard point guards. And in that regard hopefully we'll be able to shrink not only his minutes but everybody's minutes and make sure they remain productive and they don't lose anything.
Johnson’s 4-year extension, if signed, would be in the $64 million-range.
"You get that type of respect for how you perform during the postseason," Joe Johnson said. "During the regular season, you get your name out there, you get known. But the postseason is where legends are made."