Jim Mancari, SNYNets.com
It’s only been three games, but of course the critics are already attacking the new-look Brooklyn Nets.
Of all the high-profile moves, the Joe Johnson trade immediately comes to mind, especially since Johnson has gotten off to a slow start in Brooklyn.
In three games, Johnson has averaged a respectable 14 points, which would be fine if the other members of the Nets were scoring consistently.
The problem is that Johnson wasn’t brought in here to be a role player. He’s historically shown he can be a scorer, and the Nets will need him to pick up the pace.
His shooting has suffered in the early going. He’s only managed a 37.8 shooting percentage through the first three games. He’s shot well from three-point range (5-of-10), but that’s a very limited sample.
Just as coach Avery Johnson experimented with in the preseason, Joe Johnson has been getting significant minutes with the Nets’ second unit. The whole purpose is for J.J. to take over the game offensively against the opposing team’s second unit.
However, Johnson has merely blended in while MarShon Brooks and C.J. Watson have provided the bulk of the offense from the Nets’ reserves.
Could it be the Johnson is fatigued? He’s averaging 37.7 minutes per night, which is similar to his minutes per game average each of the past four seasons.
But maybe the fact that he’s remaining on the floor for greater periods of time is getting him tired faster.
Again though, we’re three games into the season. Johnson is a six-time All-Star, and he’s playing with a three-time All-Star in Deron Williams. It’s going to work out; it just needs time.
For what it’s worth, the four players the Nets traded four Johnson haven’t exactly been difference makers. DeShawn Stevenson is averaging 9.3 points in 26.7 minutes per game, while sharp-shooter Anthony Morrow has only played in one game in which he scored five points.
Center Johan Petro is inactive with lower back pain, and even so, he’ll likely have a limited role with the Hawks whenever he returns to full strength. In mid-September, the Hawks negotiated a contract buyout with Nets’ 2011 second round draft pick Jordan Williams, who remains a free agent.
But here’s the thing: None of these four players have four years and $89 million left on their contracts. The trade for the Hawks was merely a salary dump, while the Nets got the scoring potential they needed to pair with D-Will.
So Johnson will look to get his season on track tonight against the Magic. In 35 career games against Orlando, he’s averaged 18.9 points. As a member of the Hawks, he’s beaten the Magic four straight times and will look to continue that streak.