Last season Joe Johnson became the fourth player to make at least 150 three-pointers while shooting better than 45% from beyond the arc.
Record: 13-69 (15th in East) Points scored: 92.7 (28th in NBA) Points allowed: 102.5 (29th) Coach: Coach: Mike Woodson (second season with the Hawks)
It's nice to finally get a top free agent -- even if he isn't a good fit
On paper the price the Hawks paid for Joe Johnson in their sign-and-trade with Phoenix seems exorbitant: a five-year, $70 million contract, plus the two conditional No. 1 draft picks and 2003 first-rounder Boris Diaw. After all, the 6'7" Johnson was only the Suns' fourth-best player last season. And like the top talent that Atlanta already had -- Al Harrington, Josh Childress, Josh Smith and the No. 2 pick from North Carolina, Marvin Williams -- Johnson is best suited to playing the two or the three.
But after six straight losing seasons (including a league-worst 13-69 record last year), and after being jilted by high-profile free agents such as Kenyon Martin and Carlos Boozer in 2004, the Hawks were desperate to lavish some of their $24 million in cap space on a potential All-Star who reciprocated their interest. The 24-year-old Johnson fit the bill. "I grew up in the South [Little Rock], so that definitely had a role in me wanting to come to Atlanta," he says. "I think we have some special players here." Because of the logjam on the perimeter, the Hawks will need Johnson to start at the point, a position he has manned with mixed results during his five-year career. He'll also be asked to reprise his 47.8% three-point shooting from last season; Atlanta shot an NBA-low 31.2% from beyond the arc in '04-05.
Second-year coach Mike Woodson won't hesitate to put all five swingman-sized players on the floor at once. "This thing of ones, twos, threes, fours -- we've got to start throwing it out the door," he says. "Because it limits guys and their skills." -- Ben Reiter