The 2009-10 Atlanta Hawks won 53 games. That was the third-best regular season record in the Eastern Conference and Atlanta’s best finish since the 1993-94 campaign. All-Star Joe Johnson (21.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.1 SPG) was a big reason for the Hawks’ success.
Johnson ranked 10th in Minutes Per Game (38.0), 11th in Points Per Game, tied (with Derrick Rose) for 13th in points (1,619), 19th in Usage Percentage (26.3) and 19th in Offensive Win Shares (6.0). According to 82games.com, Joe also ranked 8th in Clutch Scoring (39.5 Points Per 48 Minutes of Clutch Time).
Johnson is a hot-shooting (at times) two guard. The Bulls need a hot-shooting two guard. And if they can’t get Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh, Johnson is probably among their Plans C, D, E, etc.
However, Joe’s performance last night in Atlanta’s 91-87 home lossto the Milwauke Bucks wasn’t pretty.
His line was bad enough on its own — only 13 points on 6-for-16 shooting (0-for-3 on from downtown), one measely trip to the line, a game-worst 4 turnovers and his first foul out of the season.
But let’s talk about foul number six.
The Hawks were still up 82-81 when Kurt Thomas — only the oldest, creakiest player in the game — suckered Joe Cool into a charge. Maybe Atlanta still would have lost even with Johnson on the floor…or maybe not. But spending the last two-plus minutes of “Winning Time” without their best player sure didn’t help matters.
Said Johnson: “It was a terrible loss. It was embarrassing.”
He’s not wrong. The Hawks shouldn’t just be better than the Bucks, they should be muchbetter. After all, Milwaukee is playing without Andrew Bogut. By the numbers, Bogus is the Bucks’ best player.
Home games against inferior opponents…there’s no better time for a star player to step up. However, Johnson did not. That’s a concern. If Joe demands a max or close-to-the-max contract this offseason, well, I’m not sure that would be the best use of the Bulls’ money. Johnson is an All-Star, but not a superstar.