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The Mavericks And Joe Johnson

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With free agency quickly approaching, the Mavericks are furiously being linked to every free agent out there.  Yesterday, a report surfaced that the Mavericks will indeed attempt to lure Leborn to Dallas.Today we have a report that the Mavericks have Joe Johnson near the top of their wish list.

Joe Johnson would instantly become the Mavericks' number two option behind Nowitzki. He would become the Mavericks' second best passer. He would provide the scoring punch they need. He would finally be an answer to the shooting guard void the Mavericks have had for many years. He would seemingly be the perfect fit on the Mavericks.

Joe Johnson has been very consistent in Atlanta. His last three years reflect that.

Rebounds etc
 Year Team Min  M A Pct   M A Pct   M A Pct   Off Def Tot   Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG  
 2007-08 ATL 82 40:47  7.9 18.3 43.2   2.1 5.4 38.1   3.9 4.6 83.4   1.0 3.5 4.5   5.8 2.7 1.0 0.2 2.1 21.7  
 2008-09 ATL 79 39:30  7.9 18.0 43.7   1.9 5.2 36.0   3.8 4.6 82.6   0.8 3.6 4.4   5.8 2.5 1.1 0.2 2.2 21.4  
 2009-10 ATL 76 38:00  8.4 18.2 45.8   1.7 4.6 36.9   2.9 3.5 81.8   1.0 3.7 4.6   4.9 1.9 1.1 0.1 1.9 21.3

He's averaged 22 points per game. His rebounding has been fairly consistent. His turnovers have actually decreased. The one thing that has changed over the last few years, is his ability to get to the free throw line. He's a decent free throw shooter when he gets to the line, averaging 80% for his career, he just doesn't get there. Why? Joe Johnson is a jumpshooter. This has to be  the Mavericks' biggest concern regarding Johnson. He's also not getting to the rim as often as he once did.

Johnson %FGA (16'+) %FGA (at rim) %FGA (rim to 10')
06-07 58.8 21.8 10.3
07-08 57.9 18.8 12.2
08-09 54 18.4 16.7
09-10 51.4 20.1 18.9

The problem isn't that he's taken more jump shots - he's actually taking less. It's that he's taking as many shots from around 10 feet as he is at the rim itself. That's not a good. Johnson has never been a particularly athletic player and his ability to get to the rim will only diminish as he gets older.

Johnson is also below average defensively.  Defensive plays are generally considered to be blocks/steals/charges drawn. The league average per 40 minutes played last season was 2.38. So, an average NBA player makes 2.38 defensive plays a game. JJ Barea, for instance, averaged 2.3 defensive plays per 40 last season.

Joe Johnson averaged 1.33.

Let that sink in. JJ Barea averaged more defensive plays per 40 than Joe Johnson.

Now, to be fair to Joe, he's often asked to guard the opposing team's point guard for durations of the game, which is difficult, but that is still inexplicable.

Having said all of this, if I'm faced with the decision of ending up with Joe Johnson or ending up with nothing, I'd take my chances with Johnson and see what happens. But with the many red flags I've listed, I would  hope the Mavericks exhaust all possible options before committing five years to Joe Johnson.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.