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Josh Smith, Al Horford, Or Joe Johnson: Who's The Hawks Real MVP?

After watching two halves of Atlanta Hawks basketball minus Josh Smith, who's out of tonight's game against the Bulls due to a knee injury, I'm thinking Al Horford might have some competition in the team MVP argument. Not that anybody's really arguing about that. So let's argue about it!

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Joe Johnson makes the most money and is the usual de facto listing the casual fan would put down if asked to name Atlanta's best player, but the team played respectably without him earlier this season, going 5-4 during his injury. But missing Horford meant the worst game in the city's NBA history and a 34-point loss to the Sixers. Most observent Hawks and NBA fans would go with Horford.

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Yet so far tonight without Smoove, things haven't gone much better. The Hawks are shooting 31 percent and trail 27 at the half, as of this writing. Horford is exerting himself, but the rest of the front court is no threat to Chicago's game on either end of the floor.

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Which player can Atlanta least afford to play without?

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Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.