FanPost

Just How Overrated is Joe Johnson? The 1,000 best Scoring Seasons Since '79 - '80

Joe Johnson and Advanced Stats

Advanced statistics fans seem to fall into one of two categories. Those that discover evidence of what they already believe about a particular player, and then trumpet that stat, and those that just love them as a form of abstract geekdom, a way of exploring the "virtual" of a game we love. Those that hate them either seem to dismissively not look at them closely enough, or just don't like what they say about a player they cheer for and see with their own eyes.

The Advanced stat blogger The City came up with a very interesting way of measuring scoring greatness. Basically he uncovered a frontier line that exists between TS% - an efficiency stat that is supposed to measure the how efficiently you score - and USG% - a volume stat that expresses how much of the offense you take up. The reason why this relationship is supposed to be telling is that it is argued that there is a law of diminishing returns in scoring, ie at a certain point the more you shoot the less likely it is to score, in the broadest sense. You can see some of the detailed investigative work to check if this is true here at Count The Basket.

The result of The City's greatest scoring graph looks like this, a distribution of all of the great scoring (TS% vs USG%) seasons since the inception of the 3 pt shot:

Greatscoringseasons_medium

via i180.photobucket.com

He calculates individual scoring greatness as the distance from the frontier line - you can see the red perpendicular lines in the graphic above. While I think there are probably better or perhaps slightly more interesting ways of creating a scoring picture the data is really fascinating. He restricted the data in calculating his frontier line to TS%>55% and USG%>25% which left out I think some very potent seasons, but when questioned he sent me a full list of the 1,000 greatest scoring seasons since the 3 pt shot with the minimum restriction taken off, and it is fair to say that at the very least this list seems to be a wide net capturing the preponderance of scoring proficiency in the league, even though it may contain a skew towards big men who have higher shooting percentages and may not have not best weighted offensive impact. At the very least we can say if you are an NBA scorer and aren't on the list at all your game has historical weaknesses or the entire statistical enterprise needs to be questioned.

What is amazing about this list is that Joe Johnson, for all his accolades as being one of the better scorers of his generation (6 straight All Star Games) actually made the list of the 1,000 best scoring seasons only ONCE. Wow... In that one season (2006-7) Joe Johnson was 25, playing for Atlanta, and had a USG% of 28.30 as well as a TS% of 55.80. It was the 459th greatest scoring season on the list. You can see some of the company that the lone Joe Johnson great season keeps here:

Joejohnsonsgreatseason_medium

via i180.photobucket.com

Glancing over his stats it seems that the central thing holding him off the list was that is TS% was never something to write home about. We all know he was/is a high volume scorer, but perhaps what this data brings out is just how inefficient he has been. In fact this appears even historically bad if this data-picture has substance to it. You can read The City's description of the application of the scoring greatness frontier line in this post. Personally I feel PER (no pun) should be incorporated into the data - how about a z-axis - which may have given Joe Johnson's very good 2009-10 season more weight, but the facts remain what they are: Joe Johnson's TS% to USG% ratio is very poor for an elite NBA scorer.

If you want to sort and play with the data yourself just download the spreadsheet to Excel.

Even if you chaff at the statistical characterization of Joe Johnson above, there is one more harbinger against him in terms of his being a Net...and that is his age. An additional analysis that The City did with his frontier line was an Aging Curve attempting to capture just when players tend to decline. Below was the general distribution with the 30th year marked in red:

Agingcurve_medium

via i180.photobucket.com

You can read his discussion of the Aging Curve findings here. There are, as noted, exceptions and uniqueness to the shape of Aging Curves, but one can see even from individual charts the trend at just about now is downwards. Joe Johnson is 31.

So what is the story about Joe Johnson? At the very least - if we are to believe even the impression of the advanced stats - he has been a high-volume scorer who has scored at historically low efficiency marks in terms of TS% and he has already entered into a zone of historical decline. Does this mean he is a bad player? No. It means he is extremely high-priced and relatively inefficient as far as elite scorers go, and probably will become more inefficient as we go. He no doubt has lots of intangibles that a vet big-time scorer has, things that will simply win games for the Nets, but there is a picture here to be thought about. In a way the Nets had to make this move in order to leverage themselves into legitimacy - a big franchise defining move coinciding with the Brooklyn rebranding - but if we take the wide view they are vaulting into playoff and merchandising relevance on something of a long bet: that Joe Johnson will not decline as quickly with age as he should, and he is a much better scorer than the TS% story tells.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join NetsDaily

You must be a member of NetsDaily to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at NetsDaily. You should read them.

Join NetsDaily

You must be a member of NetsDaily to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at NetsDaily. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker