Meet the Captains

Tuesday, September 28, 2010
By Jon Newberry

Hawks head coach Larry Drew didn’t waste any time naming the team captains for the 2010-11 season, choosing Joe Johnson, Al Horford and Josh Smith on the first day of training camp.

Three captains is more than most teams have, and for a league where only 12 players are active for each game it might seem a bit overkill. But if you look at each captain, they bring completely different aspects of leadership to the table.

First off, they are each All-Star caliber players. Joe was an All-Star starter last year, Al was a reserve, and Josh was probably the most deserving player that was left off the team. Let’s break down how each player adds value to the Hawks:

Joe Johnson –
Joe is the classic “lead by example” captain. While his quiet demeanor is often exaggerated by the media (his teammates will tell you repeatedly that he is not as quiet as you think), Joe’s actions and his work ethic speak louder than any of his words. Joe is consistently among the NBA scoring leaders despite the fact that he does not benefit from many easy shots or dunks. Joe is always in prime condition physically and can be found going through shooting drills on the practice court as often as anyone on the team.

Al Horford –
Plain and simple, Al Horford is a winner. The guy won back-to-back national championships at Florida and hasn’t missed the playoffs as a professional. Most people remember Zaza facing off with Kevin Garnett back in the ’08 Playoffs, but it was Al, showing great leadership even as a rookie, who made a statement a game earlier. Horford “allegedly” guaranteed a Hawks win and backed it up by hitting a clutch shot late in the game, creating more controversy. But I digress.

It is not Al’s confidence that makes him a good captain (that helps) but it is his willingness to do whatever it takes to win. It was evident early in his career that Horford was going to find a way to win in this league, the only question was how long it would take before he was able to assume a leadership role in Atlanta. Today’s decision to name him as captain signals that time has arrived. It is definitely a positive move for the Hawks.

Josh Smith –
For most fans Smoove is probably the surprise pick out of the trio. He isn’t a leading scorer and doesn’t appear to be extremely vocal on the court or in the huddle. The reason you might think Josh isn’t vocal is because he is doing his talking when the other team has the ball. The man who finished second in the NBA Defensive Player of the Year voting last season is constantly directing traffic on defense, helping teammates (and himself) stay in position. His leaping ability and athleticism definitely leave an impression, but getting in position to block shots and steal passes is a more cerebral skill.

So one day is in the books and the Countdown to Opening Night marches on, but now the march is led by a very impressive trio of captains.

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