What’s up with Joe Johnson?

There is a 64% chance this shot didn’t go in.

When the Brooklyn Nets swung a deal for “superstar” Joe Johnson, my expectations were, of course, tempered. Yes, he is exciting, and yes, he is a 6 time All-Star, but he is definitely not worth his contract and is heavily overrated by “Yay! Points!” However, something I would not call him is terrible.

However, this season, Joe Johnson is terrible. I tried to come up with a better phrasing for that, but I really can’t; Johnson has been horrible. After Patrick allowed readers to change a player’s position in Comparison Engine on The NBA Geek, I instantly checked how Johnson would have performed had he played SG in 11-12.

POS Min WP48 PoP48 Wins PTS DRB ORB REB AST TO BLK STL PF
Johnson SG 2127 .150 1.6 6.6 25.5 3.8 1.2 5.0 5.2 2.6 0.3 1.1 1.7
Average SG SG 1229 .099 0.0 2.5 20.2 4.5 1.1 5.5 4.2 2.7 0.4 1.5 3.1
FG% 2FG% 3FG% FT% eFG% TS% FGA 3FGA PPS FTA
Johnson 45.4% 48.9% 38.8% 84.9% 52.1% 55.7% 21.0 7.3 1.21 4.2
Average SG 42.7% 46.2% 35.5% 79.7% 48.5% 52.5% 17.4 5.7 1.16 4.2

As expected, Johnson would’ve been a way more productive shooting guard, his TS% of 55.7 was among the best among all SGs last season. So I was optimistic; a .150 WP48 doesn’t scream 20 million dollars, but hey, it beats Anthony Morrow and Deshawn Stevenson.

So what happened this year? Basically, Joe can’t hit a shot. He can’t hit open shots (the guy is missing like 3 of these a game). He can’t hit contested shots. He isn’t scoring off of isolations, he isn’t doing much better when he’s used as a spot up shooter, and he’s barely involved with the offense for long periods of time. All this has added up to a 47.6 TS% through 10 games, a solid 5 points under the average shooting guard.

POS Min WP48 PoP48 Wins PTS DRB ORB REB AST TO BLK STL PF
Johnson SG 334 0.048 -1.6 0.4 19.2 3.2 1.0 4.3 5.2 1.8 0.3 1.0 1.7
Average SG SG 225 .099 0.0 0.5 21.5 4.7 0.9 5.6 4.5 2.9 0.4 1.5 3.4
FG% 2FG% 3FG% FT% eFG% TS% FGA 3FGA PPS FTA
Johnson 36.4% 35.9% 37.3% 83.9% 43.0% 47.6% 18.5 6.6 1.04 4.0
Average SG 43.2% 46.1% 37.8% 81.8% 49.8% 54.5% 17.6 6.2 1.22 4.8

Ultimately, the Nets can’t succeed if Johnson is struggling the way that he is. Already, the Nets have to hope and pray that Brook Lopez and Deron Williams stay productive; that list cannot be expanded to 3 starters. The Nets traded for Johnson as a way to get Deron to stay, something I was on board with. But if those two are getting easily outperformed and smashed by Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, what was the point? I want to say that Johnson will recover, but terrible shooting for a post prime player with a max contract in 10 games isn’t exactly small sample size and reminds me of a certain someone.

Side note: what’s with New York teams becoming the epitome of how not to spend your money in the NBA? As soon as the Knicks started to wise up, the Nets became a big spender….on mediocre players.

As a fan of a team that has missed the playoffs for the last 5 seasons, I am still excited by the prospects of this team. However, if Johnson can’t at least maintain average production, this team will ironically become the 2010-2012 New York Knicks, first round disappointments, defeats, and drama.

-Vivek

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