It was easy to question general manager Billy King when he made the move to acquire Joe Johnson. The two-guard possesses one of the most absurd contracts in all of the NBA. He is making over $21 million this year to be an iso player and not provide much else.
Now I am not here to say that the struggles of the Brooklyn Nets should be pinned on Johnson because Deron Williams is banged up and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have massively regressed, leaving rookie head coach Jason Kidd in over his head.
But as overpaid as Joe Johnson is, he continues to do one thing for this franchise that no one else can, and that is be absolutely lethal in the clutch. Even if Johnson’s pedestrian numbers of 14.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists on 43 percent shooting provide nothing else, he constantly bails his team out and delivers when the game is on the line.
After coming off a buzzer-beater against the Oklahoma City Thunder less than a week ago, Johnson delivered again tonight in a victory against his former club in the Atlanta Hawks. Johnson scored nine of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and hit the two free throws to ice the game and extend the lead to five points. He also led the team with four assists on a night where they had to play without Williams as he nurses a nagging ankle.
Joe Johnson is overpaid, overrated and has a minimal skillset. But his clutch gene is undeniable and truthfully the Nets might have the worst record in the NBA without him. He’s got ice in his veins and he proved it again tonight by putting the team on his back in the fourth quarter.