The turnaround was not only good for the Brooklyn Nets‘ record it seemed to have restored faith in one of their players. Joe Johnson was just named as an All-Star reserve for the Eastern Conference tonight.
Johnson started the year having an up and down season as he tried to get accustomed to playing with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. That wasn’t the only change he had to make this season. Last year he had one of the best point guards in the league in Deron Williams feeding him on the perimeter and an outside/inside duo threat going on with Brook Lopez. But injuries forced both players to the sidelines, and Johnson has had to fend for himself while trying to keep the Nets relevant.
But the season has brought many changes for the highly paid shooting guard that adapting on the fly caused his game to stutter at times. With Lopez out for the season and Williams in and out of the lineup, Johnson continued to be himself and not get lost in the collapse of the Nets’ dismal season. Someone had to step up and be the leader for this veteran team, and while many figured it would be Garnett or Pierce, Johnson stepped up and took the position.
His late-game heroics against the Oklahoma City Thunderand Phoenix Suns have cemented him as the player to take the big shot at the end of games for the Nets. He has improved his perimeter defense and is taking the ball to the basket more instead of sitting at the three-point line waiting to launch his jumper. As his game has evolved this season so has the Nets’ overall record. It’s no coincidence that when he started to take off the team hopped on his shoulders and went along for the ride as well. Now that Williams is back healthy he has seen more open opportunities and has been able to make the most of them.
This season has been a testament to Johnson’s game and maturity as a player and leader. His selection to the All-Star game is well deserved.