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Hawks Insist on Giving J. Johnson His Propers

Quick, who's the second leading scoring in the league? Who was responsible for a number eight seed taking the Celtics seven games last spring? Which of today's top guards most effectively combines go-for-self scoring with team play and sound decision-making? The Hawks' Joe Johnson, of course. ↵
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↵Now it turns out that the perennially underrated Johnson isn't just a mystery to the general public, he's also neglected by the insiders. From Sekou Smith: ↵
↵⇥Hawks players have argued about music, fashion, politics, food, college football and plenty more that 15 strong-willed men can disagree about. But rarely has anything drawn such a loud consensus like the words of that anonymous NBA scout who questioned Joe Johnson's status as the Hawks' "lead player." ↵⇥
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↵⇥"Are you serious?" Josh Smith said when presented with the passage. "How do you respond to something so stupid?" ↵
↵Presumably the only other candidate for the job is Smith, who rad as he is, doesn't have nearly the composure, consistency, or clutch resources as Johnson. Interesting sidenote: Smith is supposedly a cancer with an inflated ego, but here he is, laughing off any suggestion that he's the man. The only other way to read this anonymous slight is that it's not about JJ's role on the Hawks, but relative to the rest of the league. Like, is he really "lead player" material? ↵
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↵Any scout who doesn't know the answer to that one should probably remain anonymous for a while, because otherwise his job might be in jeopardy. Johnson may not be the most dynamic cat in town, but his numbers, performances, and in a quiet way, presence on the court, compare favorably with his better-known peers. And after last year's Celtics series, said scout doesn't even have the "I don't watch them much" excuse, which is really more something a front-running fan says. I can only suspect that this is some sort of genius Mike Woodson move meant to bring the team together.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.