Joe Johnson has the biggest contract on the Nets ($21 million) and the third most all-Star appearances with six, after Kevin Garnett's 15 and Paul Pierce's 10. That double Deron Williams' number. Yet, as we've noted before, he seems like an afterthought this off-season.
SLAM reminds fans of Johnson's value in its ranking of the 50 best NBA players. The magazine's Bill DiFilippo ranks JJ as the 40th best player in the league and uses his performance in Game 3 of the playoffs to justify his case. Those two floaters that extended the Nets chances are examined in depth, showing how Johnson is not just skilled but fearless.
"He may have lost a step, and he may not be the kind of guy you can build a team around, but when your team needs two points, Johnson is an assassin. His lack of emotion is a subject of criticism from fans and pundits, but among guys in the League who are able to take everything in stride and not let the pressure of the moment get to them, there aren’t many of Johnson’s caliber."
DiFilippo notes that there WILL be games when Johnson is the Nets first option, but there will also be times when he No. 4 or 5 ... and with the Nets high-powered offense, that's just fine.
Also, on Sunday, Arbash Darbandi of Hoops Habit, asks if Johnson is past his prime. His answer qualifies as a yes, but he adds, "I predict that his numbers dip a little, but his PER and efficiency goes up. Look for him to have a bounce back year." Darbandi notes his "clutchness" and his piece is accompanied by a compilation of 10 best clutch plays in Johnson's career. The No. 1 highlight is a two-fer: Johnson's tying three in regulation vs. the Bucks ... and then his floater five minutes later to win it. As a Post headline writer put it, "Johnson and Johnson."