This is the fourth installment of our daily Nets player-by-player breakdown, with an emphasis on what’s to come for next season.
JOE JOHNSON, GUARD
Year in review: Joe Johnson was consistent from start to finish. He shot 45.4 percent from the field during the regular season -- including 40.1 percent from 3-point range -- and 81.5 percent from the free throw line. His shooting slashes then went up to 53.3/41.5/83.7 during the playoffs. Many felt that Johnson was undeserving of his All-Star selection. He proved those people wrong during the postseason, when he averaged 21.2 points in 39.1 minutes. Johnson scored 34 points in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, but the Nets were eliminated by LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
Johnson’s regular-season highlights included two game-winning buzzer-beaters (Nov. 15 in Phoenix and Jan. 2 in Oklahoma City) and a 29-point third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers on Dec. 16 (he had a season-high 37 points and a career-high 10 3-pointers in that game).
Role moving forward: When Brook Lopez was lost for the season, the Nets began running a lot of their offense through Johnson (6-foot-7, 240 pounds) in the post, capitalizing on mismatches and double-teams. That’s something they’ll probably look to do a lot next season, as well. While quiet by nature, Johnson is the kind of guy who really leads by example. He’s a nice veteran piece to have for this team moving forward.
Contract status: Johnson, who turns 33 on June 29, is owed $48.1 million over the next two seasons.
What they’re saying:
He might not be there when you call on him, but he’s there when you need him. -- Kevin Garnett on nicknaming Johnson “Joe Jesus”
Should they bring him back: Absolutely. So much for Johnson being a terrible contract. Is he overpaid? Sure. But he certainly didn’t pay himself. Johnson does his job, and he does it well. As we’ve written before, he could be the Nets' go-to guy next season -- that is, if he isn’t already.