JOE JOHNSON AFTER CONTRACT REVIEW

After signing the largest contract by any Free Agent this summer (6 year, $123 Million), Joe Johnson has gotten a lot of heat from fans and critics alike. After 14 games into the 2010-2011 Regular Season of Joe’s new contract, the 29 year old has not even been close to proving his contract. Where we have seen our frontcourt of Josh Smith and Al Horford scream out of the gates putting up numbers that have them both ranked #1 in the NBA for their respectful positions. Joe has put up numbers that don’t even rank him in the Top 15 SG in the league (16). Coming off of a 2009-2010 campaign with regular season stats of 21.9 ppg / 4.9 apg / 4.7 rpg, this season we have seen a drop in all categories except assists. After the Boston Celtics game, Joe this season has scored 17.6 ppg / 5 apg / 3.6 rpg. Joe’s shooting % is the lowest it’s been since his rookie year (42.8%) and is shooting the  lowest 3 point % in his 9 year career (25.4%).

Here are 2 reasons why Joe has been sub par this season:

1. Injury. Since the preseason, Joe has had a nagging injury to his non-shooting (left) hand. Joe says that the hand is okay, but after watching him miss multiple open shots, it is evident the hand is giving Joe problems. On top of that, the injury is not getting better. Joe put a padded glove over his left hand in the Boston game. This does not explain all of Joe’s problems, but it does explain why we’ve seen his worst shooting % ever this season. At 29, Joe is quickly aging and injuries will start to take a little longer to heal.

2. Change in Head Coach. Where the whole team has bought into Larry Drew’s motion offense, it seems as though Joe seems a bit lost in the offense due to his inability to run Isolation plays anymore. In a motion offense, off the ball movement is performed to make the defense scramble and give our offense better looks at the basket for higher percentage shots. This season, I have seen Joe sit in the corner multiple times waiting for the ball to come to him. He obviously is not comfortable with this offense. The entire team has had a smooth transition to this offense, except Joe.

It seems as though he is getting off to a slow start. So how did the 9 figure, salary cap destroyer, spend his summer after the signing. Personally, if I knew I had just been embarrassed in the Playoffs losing each game of the series by an average of 25 points, made a controversial remark pissing off all of my fans, and just signed a $100 Million+ contract that I’d be receiving until I’m 35, I would fully respect my organization after they still had faith in me and train during the offseason to not duplicate what happened last year, try and get my fanbase back, and improve. So what is the verdict as to why Joe has underperformed over the first 16% of the season? After signing the contract, Joe was asked by an interviewer about the fan incident and was asked what he’d say to his fans still mad about it. Joe responded, “There is nothing I can do about it now…” When Joe was given the opportunity to apologize, but takes the low road and puts salt on the wound. And as we have seen by comparison to this year and last year, Joe has decreased in performance in all categories. At 29, even if his hand injury fully heals this season, there are signs we have already seen his prime and are going to see a steep drop in performance from here on out.  Besides the amount of money he’s now receiving and the drop in performance, we have seen no change between last year and this year. Joe has been a MAJOR disappointment so far!

LETS RECAP: The 29 year old, who disrespects his fans, that is no longer the best player on this team, has seen his prime and is receiving the worst contract in the NBA (6 year $123 Million).

GRADE: C-

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