Name: Joe Johnson
Height: 6-foot-8 | Weight: 225-pounds
Age: 32 | Years in the NBA: 12
Contract: Three years and $69.5 million remaining
2012/13 Stats: 15.9 PTS, 3.4 AST, 3.0 TRB per 36 minutes, 49.3 eFG%
OUTLOOK: Joe Johnson turned 32-years-old over the summer which is a little old for a shooting guard which means that he may be in his final year or two as a true superstar in this league. He’s still expected to be the guy who takes the last shot on this team though and will probably be relied on more heavily for offense.
The big expectation last season was that playing with Deron Williams could have potentially really improved his game, but the two didn’t exactly click as well as expected, he became Iso-Joe and his numbers actually dropped his first year in Brooklyn. Dealing with plantar fasciitis at the end of the season didn’t help anything either. The foot has healed though, he has a new head coach and is surrounded by better teammates so hopefully the Nets can still expect him to be a team leader on offense.
START OF REGRESSION: Johnson’s numbers dropped quite a bit last season. His points per 36 minutes dropped from 19.7 over the past six years to just 15.9 last season. His rebounding and assists were also down as well. His effective field goal percentage also dropped from 52.1 percent last year, or 50 percent over the past six years, to just 49.3 percent last year. I keep using a six-year benchmark because he was incredibly consistent over that stretch so last year’s numbers could be a sign of things to come.
STILL AN OFFENSIVE THREAT: Johnson’s offensive numbers might have been down overall last season, but he still could be the best offensive weapon the Nets have. They scored an average of 112.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the court and only 103.5 when he was off the court. That’s an 8.9 point difference which is the biggest out of any of this year’s starters.
MR CLUTCH: The best thing Johnson brought to the Nets last season was his ability to play in the clutch. Deron Williams and Paul Pierce‘s field goal percentages both dropped in “clutch” situations, fourth quarter or overtime, less than five minutes left with neither team up by more than five points, but Johnson’s actually increased as he averaged 17.3 points per 36 minutes with a 40.0 field goal percentage. Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett both thrived in clutch situations, but as neither player can efficiently hit free throws the best game plan is still to find Joe.
NO DEFENSE: While Johnson certainly wasn’t a detriment to the team defensively, he wasn’t much help either. His 1.2 defensive win shares last season was the lowest among this year’s starters and the Nets allowed 106.6 points per 100 possessions with him and 107.4 points without him, a difference of just 0.8 points per game difference. If Jason Kidd is looking to tighten up on defense it might be best to bring in Jason Terry who, while not significantly better than Johnson was, was worth 1.9 defensive win shares last season or Andrei Kirilenko, who was worth 2.6.
PREDICTION: I think the regression we saw in Johnson last season was real. That could continue this season, but his numbers will probably be in the same general range they were last year. Last year he was the most obvious to guard on the Nets and with the new players, and increased depth, he’s not the obvious choice anymore. Perhaps that will work to his advantage and he can have one more year where he puts up the numbers that he used to on the Hawks.