Are We Being Too Tough On Joe Johnson?

Merry Christmas to all people around the world and a happy new year. I’m pretty sure most NBA fans got their Christmas present from ABC and ESPN, watching a full day’s worth of NBA action. I was enjoying all the games and came up on an interesting bit of information watching the Lakers/Clippers game: It seems that Kobe Bryant is the leading vote-getter for the All-Star game coming up in February.

Now let’s put this all in perspective. Kobe Bryant as of this writing has about 200,000 more votes over the runner-up Stephen Curry.

Yeah, that one. You know, the MVP, the champion, the little guy that is embarrassing the league right now. Also, Bryant has more votes than players such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, nd a couple players across the Staples Center halls in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

Outside of a “Final Curtain Call” for Kobe Bryant… WHY?!

Kobe Bryant is having easily the worst season of his career and least efficient. Bryant is averaging 17 points per game, four rebounds, and three assists. He is shooting less than 35% from the field and 25.7% from three-point range.

Why am I bringing this up on a Brooklyn Nets website?

Because of the abuse that Joe Johnson is getting for his season with the Nets, which is also his worst.

Both players are at the end of their respective contracts that are paying them about $25 million. Both players are not in their teams’ long-term plans and represent cap space for the offseason at this point. Johnson signed a long-term, six-year deal with Atlanta totaling $124 million, while Kobe Bryant got overpaid in a deal at two years at $48.5 million, basically because Jim Buss runs the Lakers. At this stage of their careers, NEITHER player deserves this kind of money.

Before I explain myself, let’s be clear… this is NOT a comparison between these two over their entire careers. Just this year. Kobe Bryant will walk in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. The only question is will Michael Jordan induct him in or not. Joe Johnson may not get in at all even though he had a good career.

Joe Johnson has struggled mightily this season, averaging only 10.8 points per game while shooting 35.5 percent overall and 31.7 percent from the land of the extra point. If you look at the shooting percentages, Johnson is shooting better than Bryant this season. I know what you are thinking… Are you nuts? Bryant is averaging 17 points to Johnson’s ten.

Well there’s more to it than that…

Check out what Johnson said to Andy Vasquez recently…

“Obviously I can’t do a lot of the things that I used to,” Johnson said. “My shots are limited to some extent, some nights I may get four, some night I may get 14.”

What this means is, Joe Johnson maybe suffering from a shooting rhythm problem rather than being in a slump. If you have watched any Brooklyn Nets games this season, you may realize that the offensive scheme (the word scheme is being used very loosely here) basically changes from game to game. Shooters need consistent shots in the frame of the offense to get their rhythm and confidence. Ask the “Splash Brothers” in Golden State or LeBron James, who is shooting just as bad or worse with his jump shot.

Kobe Bryant has almost ridiculous reign to shoot any shot that he wants. I know there a shot that Bryant has put up (I’ve seen some upwards of 30 feet) that would make Nick Young say, “Really, dude…?” Kobe Bryant pretty much had his mind made up to retire before the season started based on some of the shots he put up early in the season. After his retirement announcement, the criticism stopped and the parade started.

It seems every time Joe Johnson has a rough game, his salary comes up. Every time the Nets lose and Johnson shoots poorly, the salary is included more often than not. It’s not fair.

Johnson had to sacrifice more than any other Net this year and it should be applauded.

Joe Johnson has the unfortunate assignment to guard the other team’s best player with the injury to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson; a task he has no business doing at his stage in his career. This is another sacrifice that affects his offensive output based on the energy that he has to use. But is he complaining? Sulking about putting in work despite being the fourth option on most nights?

“It’s tough man. I’m not going to sit here and put up a front. But I just try to find things positive in it and just keep rolling.”

“We have to, as players, sacrifice for one another to make the game easier,” Johnson said. “We could all get into our modes of where we felt we haven’t had a shot in a while and jack one up, but it doesn’t necessarily help. So if we get good ball movement, set screens, get guys open, draw two people and if you’re drawing a double team, kick the ball to the next guy. That’s what it’s all about.”

If you paid attention to that quote, you probably understand why Joe Johnson is probably the best playmaker on the Nets. With that understanding of the game, maybe Lionel Hollins will consider moving Johnson to the point. He can do no worse than Jarrett Jack, who is basically guilty of what Johnson was talking about. Kobe Bryant, who has declined with his defense long before the injuries occurred plays it like it’s a metal or wood thing that you place around your house to keep people out.

Both Kobe Bryant and Joe Johnson will not be back with their teams next year. Kobe will retire and Johnson’s future is in doubt.

Both have had off-years shooting the ball and scoring.

But one of these players is playing better basketball on a team with more wins.

But won’t be in the All-Star game.