NBA All-Star Game: Atlanta Hawks Joe Johnson, Al Horford Make the Cut

Will BrownContributor IFebruary 3, 2011

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 21:  Joe Johnson #2 of the Atlanta Hawks against the Miami Heat at Philips Arena on October 21, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Center Al Horford, the East’s sixth most efficient player, and shooting guard Joe Johnson, whose 20.6 points per game lead the Atlanta Hawks, were chosen as reserves for the All-Star game in Los Angeles.

This is Horford’s second All-Star game appearance in as many years, and the sky is getting higher and higher for the young player. He’s scoring 16.1 PPG to along with grabbing almost 10 rebounds a game (9.9). Horford’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is an astounding 22.45 and ranks him as one of the best big men in the game.

Horford’s game has continued to improve over his career, and one of the biggest improvements this year has been his ever-growing comfort with his jump shot. This allows him to control what happens between him and the opposing centers, as he doesn’t have the great size that most clubs look for at the center position. Horford is showing why maybe they should.

Johnson has been the Hawks’ most reliable and probably their best player since joining the team prior to the '05-'06 season. Johnson’s appearance may be based off his incredible January when he went for 26 PPG, 4.8 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game.

He may have gotten in anyway though, as his season numbers are impressive in their own right. Johnson boasts 20.6 PPG, 5.5 APG and 4.2 RPG. Johnson’s recent hot streak is making the Hawks an even more dangerous team down the stretch.

Their performances still haven’t been giving enough wins for them though, as their last two losses in away games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks were both games that they gave up fourth quarter leads—a one-point lead over Dallas and an astonishing 11-point lead against the Bucks before falling.

They bounced back against the Toronto Raptors last night with a 100-87 win that was much more comfortable than the final score indicates.

Their next four games are against the Los Angeles Clippers, Washington Wizards, Philadelphia 76ers and the Charlotte Bobcats. All of these are winnable games for the Hawks, and winning fewer than three of them should be considered a disappointment for Hawks fans.

Johnson needs to continue his hot streak to give the Hawks a scorer that they can count on to take over a game, and Horford just needs to keep doing what he’s doing because he’s becoming one of the most valuable players in the league. Mike Bibby, Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford and Marvin Williams also make up a fantastic supporting group for these two stars in the NBA. Life is good in Atlanta.