The Atlanta Hawks are a team where their big-name players normally dominate their headlines. The stories around or about this team almost always involve the players like Al Horford, Josh Smith or Jeff Teague. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s just how things are. However, one of the consequences of the attention being focused on the stars is that stories like how well Ivan Johnson has performed in limited minutes for Atlanta are overlooked.
Johnson is 28 years old, but is in just his second season in the NBA. That obviously makes him a unique player, as does the fact that he’s 6’8”, making him a slightly undersized power forward. However, in his 57 appearances for Atlanta this season, 55 of them off of the bench, Johnson has seized every opportunity that he’s been given.
He’s averaging just 13.2 minutes per game this season, but has still managed to put up 5.7 points, 3.4 rebounds a 0.6 steals per game. Moreover, Johnson has also been an efficient shooter, posting a field goal percentage of 50 percent. Projected over more playing time, Johnson is averaging 15.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals per 36 minutes. That’s terrific production.
Projections can be skewed sometimes by concentrated effort by bench players. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Johnson, though. Johnson has played 20 or more minutes in eight games this season, playing over 30 minutes just once. In those eight games he is averaging 12.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. For a bench player, that is definitely solid production.
Looking ahead to the future of the Hawks they should really look to keep Johnson around. His contract expires at the end of this season, and he is an older player, which entails some added risk. However, with the history of injury and under-performing surrounding Zaza Pachulia, the Hawks might be better off moving towards Johnson in the future.