While playing seven seasons for the Atlanta Hawks, Joe Johnson became known as “Iso-Joe”. Johnson received that nickname because of his tendency to stagnate the offense by taking on his defender one-on-one in an attempt to score. At times, he looked like an elite scorer, but when his isolation efforts failed, it bogged down the offensive flow, which was best suited for an athletic style of play. The sheer size of his 6-year, 123- million dollar contract didn’t do Joe any justice in the eyes of fans, either. Observers criticized Johnson because his impact on the game didn’t appear to be one that was expected of a player who was making such a massive salary.
This past off-season, Joe Johnson was traded to the Nets in a multi-player deal. He was set to be paired with one of the best passing point guards in the league in Deron Williams. The conventional wisdom suggested that Johnson’s “Iso-Joe” alter ego would disappear because of Deron Williams’ ability to get easy shots for his teammates, something which was not plentiful in Joe’s Atlanta playing days. So far this season, conventional wisdom has been wrong, as Johnson has struggled with his shot.
Johnson’s field goal percentage—which as of November 27 remains at 39.2%—is almost equal to the average amount of minutes he plays a night (37.9). His career-low field goal percentage in a season was 39.7% when he played for the Suns in 2002-03. However, over his career, Johnson has shot 44.3% from the field, nearly a five-point difference from his average this year. When Joe Johnson played next to Steve Nash, another point guard with elite playmaking abilities, for the 2005-06 Phoenix Suns, he shot 46.1% from the field, the second highest percentage of his career. It is more than reasonable to give Johnson time to figure out his role in the offense and find his shot. One silver lining over Johnson’s shooting slump has been his 3-point percentage, which currently sits at 36.1%, roughly around his career average of 36.8%.
Below is Johnson’s shot chart, via Vorped.com:
At the Rim:
Joe is shooting very well on the right side of the rim, making a blistering 69.2% of his shots from there. Whats confusing, though, is how poorly he finishes on the left side, shooting only 28.6%. That could be due to some problems finishing with his left hand or going left.
Again the numbers suggest that Joe is shooting poorly from the left side of the floor, as his shooting percentages are lower on the left side as opposed to the right. He is shooting well from the right baseline as well.
Even though the corner three point shot is the easiest of all the shots outside of the perimeter, Joe is shooting the lowest from that area. Joe likes the left-wing thre point shot, given that he has taken 27 of those, but shoots higher percentage from the right wing, even though he has taken less attempts from there.
With such a small sample size, it is difficult to make strong statements about Joe’s struggles thus far this season. He will most likely pick discover his shot as he gets acclimated to his new teammates and the offense.
Whats amazing, however, is that the Nets currently have a 9-4 record and sit in first place in the Atlantic Division despite the early struggles of Joe Johnson. Once Joe picks it up, the Nets should score the ball easier.