Although they don’t appear like much to fear on the surface, but forward Ivan Johnson gives the Atlanta Hawks a player that is willing to do the dirty work and strike a little fear into opposing teams. Every playoff team needs a guy like him on the roster.
Johnson’s path to the NBA wasn’t the kind you typically see. The 6’8″ combo forward from Texas that played for four colleges before beginning his professional career in the D-League in 2007 played in South Korea, China and Puerto Rico before finally getting a shot with the Hawks last season.
When Johnson got his chance he made sure to take advantage of it. He started off the season as a 27-year old rookie and buried on the bench but eventually went on to score in double figures 15 times, including a career-high 21 points against the Toronto Raptors last April. Johnson also managed to develop a quick reputation as one of the toughest and most intimidating players in the league.
This season, Johnson has continued his trend of being ready to play when his number is called. Johnson is averaging only 6.3 points and 3.6 rebounds on the year, but in the Hawks last five games those numbers are up to 12.8 points and 5.8 rebounds on .522 from the field, giving the Hawks another option to go to in the final weeks of the season.
Johnson may never get a huge contract or much attention from the media, but his contributions to the team are appreciated by his teammates and the coaching staff. The Hawks should bring him back next year for the veteran’s minimum and feel confident that he will