Most Atlanta Hawks fans were actually happy when shooting guard Joe Johnson departed for the revamped Brooklyn Nets this past off-season, but now Hawks fans are finding out just what life without their top scorer is like.
Sure, Josh Smith is a super scorer, but let’s be honest–he’s not the most consistent player in the world. Smith sometimes has outburst games–40-point games, even–but he can’t finish when it counts. That’s not to say he blows layups or dunks, but his scoring isn’t nearly as crisp in crunch time, which is why the Hawks have lost so many close games this year.
Atlanta is slumping, but it’s not as bad as their 3-7 record in its last 10 games shows. The Hawks are playing very fundamentally-sound basketball, which is key to any NBA team’s success. However, Atlanta lacks the crunch-time scorer who can elevate his game when his team needs him the most and put the ball in the basket at the most critical times.
With all the complaints about Johnson before he left, no one in Atlanta realized just how valuable he was to the team at the end of close games. Now that Johnson is gone, the Hawks are realizing they literally have no one to fill his role. Lord knows Al Horford, Lou Williams and Jeff Teague can’t be that guy, especially when Smith is an option on the floor. So for now, the Hawks will just keep feeding the ball to Smith in the clutch and they’ll just keep coming up short. Johnson has to be liking this – on the days when the Nets win anyway.