Joe Johnson is a professional. He’s been in this thing for a minute now. He’s also a specialist, you can pay someone else to do the job, but they’re not going to do it as well as he can. (What’s good, Josh Howard?) Joe is also highly regarded, he’s a seven time All-Star that had lots of suitors last July. He decided to sign with the Utah Jazz, and now in the NBA Playoffs he is starring for them.
The Utah Jazz needed a reliable scorer they could turn to at the end of close games. Games that mattered. Games they hadn’t experienced before. This is where Joe Johnson shines.
Joe, now in his 16th season in the NBA started things off with the Boston Celtics. He even started 33 games for them as a rookie before getting traded with Randy Brown and Milt Palacio and a future 1st for Tony Delk and Rodney Rogers. For more on his time in Boston we have this great Andy Blarsen (He assimilated Andy B Larsen) question from practice:
Joe Johnson also took a moment to relive the time he played against Karl Malone pic.twitter.com/r692oqSpeE— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) April 28, 2017
But Joe has gone to the playoffs with each and every team he has been a part of by playoff time: the Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, and now Utah Jazz. I suspect that part of the reason why he signed the Jazz was because he knew that this team would make it to the post-season. Another reason was because he knew that this team would need a guy like him when they got there.
During the regular season Joe played in 78 games - missing only a few, and most of those for rest. He averaged 23.6 mpg in that time, took 8.0 shots a game, and had an 18.5 USG%. According to the line-up data he played mostly small forward (56%) and shooting guard (41%), but saw time at point guard and power forward as well.
In the NBA Playoffs things changed. He has played in 100% of the games so far, and in them he is averaging 32.0 MPG. In that time on the court he’s taking 14.6 FGA/G, and has a 25.2 USG%. And as we all know, he’s getting it done at the power forward position.
The Joe Johnson who played in the regular season, who everyone scouted for, was not the Joe Johnson we have on the team in the playoffs. And I think this was by design. This was one of many great “Rope-A-Dope”s by the Jazz braintrust.
And let’s be real - no one has accurate scouting data on the Jazz right now because they still haven’t used their most logical and powerful line-up yet:
Maybe we see that tonight. Maybe not. Maybe it won’t matter at all with how Joe is playing as long as he does. He’s got over 100 games in the post-season, and over 4,000 minutes of action under his belt. He’s gone for over 30 points a few times, all of them with the Hawks or Nets. But he’s not done yet.
He scored 28 with the Jazz just a few nights ago. He had 21 before then. Two of his Top 25 scoring games in the playoffs are in a Jazz jersey; one of his Top 10. And he just GOT HERE.
Joe, Iso-Joe, Joe Jesus, whatever you want to call him, remember to call on him during crunch time. He’s been impossible, scoring game winners over Jamal Crawford, hunting for the mismatch against bigger guys (Marreese Speights), smaller guys (J.J. Redick), and taking his own designated defender to the paint and scoring on him with that one-handed, jump hook (done this a few times to Blake Griffin in Game 1 and 2, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute in the rest).
He’s clearly at that McCree period of his career. I don’t know if he’s going to play for 20 seasons, I don’t think he has to. But this old gunslinger knows when to take his shot. Oh, and Doc Rivers is thinking of starting Paul Pierce tonight?
Joe’s not done just yet. And as a result, neither are the Utah Jazz.