The JET effect: Jason Terry was probably underrated in his prime

Jason Terry has similar numbers to Joe Johnson in his career, but has made significantly less money. Probably because he was underrated. AP Photo.

Jason Terry has similar numbers to Joe Johnson in his career, but has made significantly less money. Probably because he was underrated. AP Photo.

The Dallas Mavericks blog Mavs MoneyBall had a piece up this week about the effect that Jason Terry had on the Mavericks and how they managed to be one of the most dominant teams of the past decade without ever having a true secondary star to back up Dirk Nowitzki.

Part of the credit for that domination, Mavs Moneyball writer Andrew Tobolowsky says, is due to the JET role. Tobolowsky makes the argument that even though he’s not a star and he doesn’t have especially exceptional stats that Terry was a big part of the reason for their success.

“What they had, instead, was Jason Terry,” Tobolowsky wrote. “Jason Eugene Terry. An undersized shooting guard, who was awful at defense, demonstrated poor bbiq pretty darn often and whose shooting percentage declined basically every year he was a Maverick.

“Terry, who was a hero, a fourth-quarter wizard, whose confidence was so powerful and so infectious it was like it was literally another player on the court, one that was somehow way better than the otherwise abstract combination of talents that was Jason Terry.”

I think a large part of the issue here is perception. Joe Johnson is considered a star player. If he were on that Mavericks team it would be hard to argue that he wouldn’t have been the second biggest star on the team behind Dirk and based on how well he’s been compensated (he’s made nearly $40 million more in his career than Terry has in two fewer years) that would seem to be justified.

However, that’s just perception. For the most part, Jason Terry is every bit as good a player as Joe Johnson has been.

Just compare the two players’ numbers. In their careers they both have a similar points per 36 minutes — JET averaging 17.1 points per 36 and JJ averaging 17.3, JET shot 44.7 percent and JJ shot 44.2 percent, JET shot 37.9 percent behind the arc while JJ shot 36.9 percent.

So in reality I don’t think there is any hidden talent that Terry has that contributed to the Mavs’ success. It’s probably not some weird intangible. It’s more likely just that he wasn’t fully appreciated for his contributions.

This is not to say that the Nets have basically gotten another, much cheaper, version of Joe Johnson. At this point in their careers they are two different players as Terry is very much in the decline phase of his career as a soon to be 36-year-old and, hopefully, JJ still has some legs in him as a just turned 32-year-old.

Terry is coming off of a rough season too where he averaged just 13.5 points per 36 minutes while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor (slightly lower than his career average) and 37.2 percent from behind the arc (again, below his career average). Hopefully though that was just a down year and he has a little more left in the tank. If that’s the case, the Nets still haven’t gotten a second Joe Johnson, but Terry could end up playing a bigger role with the 2013-14 Nets than many of us expect out of him.