Hello Brooklyn, I’m #7, Joe Johnson, six-time NBA All-Star and lifelong Razorback.
I’m assuming most of you are like me. On June 30, Adrian Wojnarowski sent out a Tweet saying the Nets had inquired about Joe Johnson, and immediately my thoughts went where everyone’s thoughts go when they first think Joe Johnson: massive contract.
I’ll admit, I love basketball as much as the next blogger, but I can’t say I was an avid watcher of the Johnson-led Atlanta Hawks. So other than some numbers -- statistically and financially -- I didn’t know a whole lot about the former Atlanta Hawk.
Here’s what I knew about Joe Johnson.
I knew that he was the best player on an Atlanta Hawks team that always just fell short of the line that is “great basketball team.” I knew that he made more money than anyone else in the summer of 2010. I knew that he averaged over 18 points a game last year, and that he averaged at least 18 points a game each season he played for Atlanta. I knew that he has played in the All-Star game every year for the last six years.
With this piece, we here at Nets Are Scorching are kicking off Joe Johnson Week, a week dedicated to help you -- as well as us -- learn a little more about our brand new piece to Brooklyn’s Backcourt.
I’m sure all of you watched the introductory press conference of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, and if you didn’t you can here. One thing I’m sure you noticed is that Joe Johnson is a quiet dude, which is probably the exact personality you want for a Brooklyn star player. In a rare slip of the tongue, where Johnson declared Brooklyn to be the best team in New York, he found himself in headlines. That’s what happens in New York City. He isn’t in Atlanta anymore.
What Joe Johnson does bring for certain is talent at the two-guard position that hasn’t been matched since the days of Vince Carter. Pair that with talent at the one that hasn’t been matched since Jason Kidd, and the Nets are looking at a back court comparable to a team that reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
On offense, Joe Johnson is one of the league’s top shooting guards. Last season, Johnson ranked third among the league’s shooting guards in points per game, behind Kobe Bryant and Monta Ellis. As a scorer, Johnson is considered one of the elites, as he has averaged over 18 points per game since he left Phoenix to sign with the Atlanta Hawks in 2005.
During his Atlanta tenure, Johnson averaged over 45% shooting four of his seven years there and last season shot 38.8% behind the arc, which is the second highest of his career. The best of his career came in 2004, when Johnson hit 47.8% of buckets from long-range, and that just so happened to be the lone season he spent with some no-name point guard named Steve Nash. Not to mention his insane late-game shots.
Joe Johnson, nicknamed "Iso Joe," has developed a reputation on the offensive end for being an isolation player and slowing down ball movement. And while Deron Williams may say that Joe “will still get iso’s,” I don’t see how that's possible. Johnson’s best statistical years came during the Iso Joe days, but a shooting guard is only as good as his looks are, and he is now playing with arguably the best passer in the league. Gone are the days where Joe Johnson needs isos to be successful. I’m sure he’ll take open looks just as well.
On the other side of the court, Johnson is a solid defender, averaging an opponent PER of 10.0 per 48 minutes when he played shooting guard last year. He’s isn’t a lock-down defender by any means, but gone are the days of blown rotations and poor coverage by past Nets starting shooting guards like Anthony Morrow and MarShon Brooks. Johnson and Williams together will be able to hold most backcourts in check.
We’re going to dive much deeper into Joe Johnson analysis this week, so let’s put aside the numbers for a minute and talk about the man himself:
- Joe Johnson has a sneaker vault and it’s ridiculous. He has a fingerprint scanner that lets him into this giant closet with mirrors for ceilings where he shoots hoops, takes naps and stores thousands and thousands of sneakers.
- Joe Johnson can throw out a pretty mean first pitch.
- Joe Johnson is pretty generous with his money, even participating in summer 3-on-3 tournaments to play with kids from his hometown Little Rock, Arkansas.
- Joe Johnson was dubbed the "shiest player I've ever had" by his high school coach. Good thing is play is exactly the opposite.
- Joe Johnson was raised by a single mom in a bad Little Rock neighborhood. He's witnessed gang shootings, drug deals, and more.
- Joe Johnson gets a "kick out of chillin."
Now, this charitable, sneaker-obsessed Razorback is a Brooklyn Net. And he loves playing basketball.
Billy King said after the Johnson trade that in New York basketball, it’s not about the money, it’s about performance. As I said, I’ve always associated money with Joe Johnson, and it’s going to take me a seasons worth of play to put that behind me. But, blocking that part out, it's hard to see why the Nets wouldn't want a basketball player like Joe Johnson. His attitude will be perfect in New York City. And about that backcourt...
Throughout this week, you’re going to get to know the Nets new two-guard a little better. We'll break down how he'll fit in the Nets offense and what exactly we can expect out of this piece of the Brooklyn Nets backcourt. Each one of us will have something coming up, so stay tuned for more information, analysis and game play on Joe Johnson.