But going into the start of the NBA's regular season next week, Johnson isn't so sure anymore.
"Sometimes, I can't tell if we really want it,'' Johnson told FanHouse after his Hawks were embarrassed by a 37-point loss Friday night in their final exhibition game by the Orlando Magic. "It's discouraging. Sometimes, you never know what you're going to get from this team. And that won't work.''
The Hawks won 47 games last season, improving their win total for the fourth consecutive year in a very patient, well-planned rebuilding project. They also landed the No. 4 seed in the East last spring, winning their first playoff series in 10 years.
By adding some depth with Jamal Crawford and Joe Smith to the same young, athletic starting lineup, the Hawks should be looking at their first 50-win season since 1998.
"You see flashes of a team here that can play with anyone in the league, a really good team. Then other nights we're horrible, like we've never played together before,'' he said. "We have to decide, which team do we want to be. And right now, I don't know.''
Although it was merely an exhibition game, the Hawks were at full strength Friday night, starting the same lineup that will open the season Wednesday. Johnson had hoped to use the Magic -- the defending Eastern Conference champs -- as a measuring stick for his team.
He and the rest of the Hawks were hoping that all the preseason talk about the East being a three-team race between Orlando, Boston and Cleveland might allow them to slip quietly into the mix.
"Right now, I'm not worried about those other three teams,'' Johnson said. "I'm worried about the Atlanta Hawks.''