Mitchell big on Johnson

STEVE BUFFERY

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell had nothing but praise for Hawks' shooting guard Joe Johnson, calling him one of the most underrated players in the NBA.

"Physicality and talent," Mitchell said, in describing what sets Johnson apart from the pack. "You're looking at a 6-8 2-guard, easily 230 pounds. And he's quick. He handles the ball as well as any point guard. And he can just flat-out shoot it. He has no weaknesses in his game.

"People don't talk about him much when you have guys like Kobe (Bryant), and LeBron (James) and Dwyane Wade, those guys generally get the headlines, but there's not a coach in this league who wouldn't take Joe Johnson. He's an all-star. He's probably not as flashy as those three guys, but he's just as effective."

Johnson ranks seventh in the NBA in points per game with 23.4.

LONG RANGE BOMBERS

Last night's game featured two of the NBA's best three-point shooting teams. The Hawks are ranked first (.426), while Toronto is third (.413). The Raptors were the top long-range shooting team last season (.392).

Five players in last night's game -- Jason Kapono, Marvin Williams, Maurice Evans, Andrea Bargnani and Anthony Parker -- are ranked in the top-15 in NBA three-point shooting.

COMPANY FOR ANDREA?

Carlo Recalcati, head coach of the Italian national team, said recently that he is hoping that national team guard Marco Belinelli gets traded from the Golden State Warriors to the Raptors, so he can play alongside Bargnani. Recalcati believes that Belinelli would thrive playing alongside his national teammate, and under Mitchell's system.

There have been reports that the Raptors are interested in the young shooting guard.


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