NEW YORK -- Let the “Joe Johnson for Eastern Conference All-Star reserve” campaign begin.
“I think he’s an All-Star,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said Monday. “Hopefully he’ll be there representing Brooklyn.”
The way Johnson is playing right now, why not? He may not be leading in the Eastern backcourt ballots, but he sure is leading the Nets.
On Monday afternoon, Johnson scored 20 of his team-high 25 points in the first half, propelling Brooklyn over the rival New York Knicks, 103-80 at Madison Square Garden. In his past six games, he is averaging 24.5 points on 51.4 percent shooting, including 47.2 percent from 3-point range.
“Obviously I’ve been selected six times, and I’ve enjoyed each and every time like it’s my first,” Johnson said. “Those are moments and times that are very honorable, so to be able to represent the Nets would be great.
“But considering the fact from where we’ve come from to this point, obviously we’ve got a long way to go, but it would be that much more special.”
While Johnson’s numbers may not be off the charts, he’s definitely been the Nets’ most consistent player this season, and has certainly stepped up as the team’s No. 1 offensive option in the absence of Brook Lopez.
With Lopez out, the Nets have tried to establish Johnson early, and it’s worked. In his past six first quarters, Johnson has scored 67 points. Whether he’s catching the ball in the post, getting a catch-and-shoot corner 3 from the weak side, or creating out of isolation sets, Johnson has become a reliable weapon.
“Joe has been everything we expected,” Kevin Garnett said. “Coming here we knew that, he was one of the primary (scorers) here ... and his effort on defense, I don’t think a lot of people think that he is a defensive stopper or anything like that but he does give a valid effort on both ends.”
Prior to his hot streak, Johnson went through a five-game stretch in which he did not score in double figures. But he ended up getting his confidence back.
“Just paying attention to detail, staying focused, getting my work in at practice, and just listening to my coaches and my teammates,” Johnson said. “They’ve been steadily revving me up, telling me to keep going and keep being aggressive.”
Johnson, who has hit two game-winning buzzer-beaters this season, faces stiff competition for a reserve spot from DeMar DeRozan, Arron Afflalo and Lance Stephenson. But given all the adversity he and his teammates have faced this season, it certainly would be a nice reward.
Do you think Joe Johnson is worthy of making the All-Star team? Let us know in the Comments section below.