The 2013-2014 Brooklyn Nets were one of the top teams to watch entering last season with a roster full of stars looking to claim the Nets as truly “their team.” The only player that came close to doing so was Joe Johnson, who showed that he was the best player on the squad.
Johnson entered the year with a huge target on his back after arriving in Brooklyn with a massive contract that was already considered one of the worst in the NBA. While Johnson failed to truly live up to his big paychecks, he did stake claim as the Nets best chances for a contending season.
Johnson led the team in scoring during 2013-2014, averaging just shy of 16 points per contest and finishing in the team’s top ten in shooting percentage, along with first in three-point percentage.
His scoring is impressive, but on a team full of established stars who are all proficient at scoring, that’s not what makes Johnson stand out. Johnson earns his spot as the brightest spot in the Nets’ galaxy thanks to his heart, clutch shooting and aggressive defense.
Johnson is consistently one of the most, if not the most, competitive and emotional players on the Brooklyn squad. He showed his ability to channel that passion and shine in the moments where it matters most during the late part of the season, as he time and time again captured victories for the Nets with both solid play throughout the length of games and buzzer beating heroics.
He showed his ability to perform in the postseason against the Toronto Raptors and the Miami Heat, again leading the team in scoring while bumping up his production to 21.8 points a game, and seeing significant increases in both field goal and three point shooting percentage.
Meanwhile, his defense is maybe the best in the Nets’ starting five. He often picks up his opponents best offensive player, finished inside at seventh in defensive wins share among the Nets, and managed to keep roughly the same defensive stats during the playoffs while defending the likes of Lebron James.
The Nets will need to decide during the summer of 2014 which players they want to build a true contender around, as this roster has floundered to mediocre finishes during both campaigns in Brooklyn. Johnson, given his heart, clutch shooting touch, defense and scoring, should be the centerpiece of that process.