Jim Mancari, SNYNets.comNew York, N.Y. — Nets head coach Avery Johnson announced Thursday that his newly-acquired six-time All-Star shooting guard Joe Johnson will continue serve as the anchor on the team’s second unit.
Through the first few preseason games, Johnson has seen plenty of action with the reserves as he tries to get comfortable with his new teammates.
In Thursday night’s ugly loss to the Boston Celtics, Johnson stayed on the floor with the second unit, but he was cold all night from the outside.
It was still just a preseason game, but Johnson should be dominating the pace of play when he’s on the floor with not only the Nets’ reserves but also the opposing team’s reserves. Avery Johnson’s whole goal with this system is for Joe Johnson to take over the game like he’s shown he’s capable of.
Though coach Johnson is committed to using Joe on the second unit, he said it wouldn’t affect Joe’s minutes with Deron Williams in the starting lineup. Brooklyn’s backcourt still needs some time to get on the same page in anticipation of the season.
However, if Johnson is playing with the second unit and he’s playing with D-Will on the first unit, when does he get a rest? He had the night off Tuesday night, but maybe fatigue was a factor early in Thursday’s game that led to his poor shooting performance.
After he got the chance to rest at halftime, Johnson was much more effective, hitting on 3-of-5 shots for eight points in the third quarter.
Avery Johnson has the flexibility of having a deep bench. When Joe Johnson does get a breather, C.J. Watson can take over at point guard with Williams shifting to the two-guard position.
But in all this shifting, where does it leave MarShon Brooks, the team’s backup shooting guard? Brooks’s minutes have been limited thus far due to right foot tendonitis, but he showed last season that he could be an instant source of offense off the bench when healthy.
With no lockout this year, a full 82-game season will take its toll on the players, so having a number of scoring options will be a luxury for Avery Johnson. But he has to be conscious of getting his players in a rhythm with the unit that they’ll mostly be playing with.
In crunch time, Joe Johnson and Williams will naturally be on the floor together. Why not let the young Brooks control the second unit and ensure Johnson is fresh for a late-game push? This is of course depends on the development of the team’s other potential scorers off the bench: Mirza Teletovic, Andray Blatche and Watson.
It’s definitely a work in progress, but with only two preseason games left before opening night, hopefully Avery Johnson commits to using his new All-Star to the best of his potential.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.