Despite a new head coach and the arrival of LeBron James and Chris Bosh in Miami, Joe Johnson has proclaimed that the Atlanta Hawks will not be taking a step back this season. The team is returning two all-stars, an all-star snub and the reigning sixth man of the year. Although they are not the biggest team in the league, Al Horford and Josh Smith will be productive in the paint, especially since Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford will be wreaking havoc on the perimeter. Given the talents they have, Larry Drew’s new motion offense could yield the most efficient offensive attack the team has had in years.
They have improved each year for the last five, including last season’s 53-win campaign where they earned the number four seed in the Eastern Conference, and they’ve had the same group of players for quite some time now, so chemistry should not be too big of a problem. The team seems to get along with each other both on and off the court and they know what to expect from each other each game. Now, if Larry Drew can put an end to their postseason woes, Johnson’s proclamation could ring true. Joe Johnson joined WCNN in Atlanta to talk about whether he is ready to start the season, what he likes about this year’s roster and whether they could be as good as last season, and whether the team is physical enough to be able to play with the big teams in the Eastern Conference.
Whether he is ready to start the season:
“Yeah definitely looking forward to starting the season off with a bang.”
Whether there were times last season that he was worried he wouldn’t be an Atlanta Hawk:
“Well maybe so but I think all in all I figured I would be back. This is a great place for me, a great opportunity I think we have got a great, young team that has only gotten better over the previous 5 years. So we expect big things from ourselves this year.”
Whether it is nice to have Larry Drew as their coach because the team knows what to expect coming into the season:
“Yeah pretty much. We know LD, he expects a lot out of us. He knows that we have a potential to be the best team in the NBA and we just got to believe that.”
Whether Larry Drew has surprised him with anything now that he is the Head Coach:
“No he doesn’t surprise me at all. We pretty much knew what to expect going into the season.”
How his offseason was:
“It was great. Staying healthy was the main thing. I was able to do that and just to kind of stay in rhythm with some of the guys, stay in contact. I thought it was pretty productive.”
What he likes about this year’s roster and whether they could be as good as last season:
“The fact that we are a lot deeper now. We have got a lot more bigger bodies to help guys like Josh, Zaza and Al down in the low post. That was pretty much our main concern. Now that we have filled that void we have got other guys like Jordan Crawford coming in to help with the scoring a little. WE have got a great, young team. We just have to stay confident.”
Whether the team is physical enough to be able to play with the big teams in the Eastern Conference:
“Yeah definitely. I think my main concern is just injuries. We got to stay healthy and if we stay healthy man, we have got a tough team.”