Friday, June 29, 2012

The Hawks Blog: Grading the 2011-2012 Season (Joe Johnson)

*Team/NBA Leaderboard ranks are qualified players only.
*The Floor Time section includes both qualified and unqualified players in rankings.
*Remember to check the Glossary at the end of this entry for stat/abbreviation explanations. 

SG/SF Joe Johnson (7th season with Hawks/11th season overall)
Age: 30
Draft History: 10th pick in 2001 by Boston
Acquired: Received from Phoenix in trade August of 2005
2012 Salary: $18.04 Million
2013 Contract Status: $19.75 Million
2012 Regular Season Grade: B

Grade Explanation: Played 60 of 66 games, leading team in MPG and P/G. Was hampered by a knee injury during the middle portion of the year and missed 6 games. Had good season shooting 3’s and a very good season at the FT line. Played well late, making a number of big shots in close games. Solid defense. Did not perform like an $18 million dollar player.  

Overall: When you think about it, Joe Johnson has to be one of the more interesting sports figures in Atlanta history. I don’t mean his personality or demeanor, which is as bland and featureless as it gets. I mean “the case of Joe Johnson.” 

The guy is forever linked to Atlanta Spirit Group and the turmoil that his acquisition caused. You can make a case that by no fault of his own, Johnson doomed ASG, the Hawks, and the Thrashers. It’s certainly not Joe’s fault that the team traded for him and gave him all that money. It’s really not his fault that the team gave him all that money again in the summer of “The Decision.” 

He’s not worth all of that money; not even close. But it’s not his fault that ASG keeps thinking he is.

This is all true, but if you get paid like a superstar, we have to judge you on that scale. And obviously Joe comes up woefully short of justifying his huge salary. 

Joe played in 60 of 66 games this season, all as a starter, averaging 35.5 MPG. He was hindered by a knee injury during the middle part of the season which hampered his production and forced him to miss 6 games. Once the knee got healthy Joe’s play really improved, but of course he was still well short of being an $18 million dollar type of player. 

Johnson shot .454/.388/.849 this season, averaging 18.8 P/G, 3.7 R/G, 3.9 A/G, 0.8 S/G, and 0.2 B/G with 1.9 TOV/G. When Joe was on his game this season he was deadly as always in the dribble-drive game, hitting runners, floaters, and fade away jumpers. He was also even more dangerous than usual as an outside shooter this year. 

Even during the part of the year when Joe was struggling, he was still able to hit the big shot late in the game more often than not. With Jamal Crawford gone, Joe was back to being the only option at the end of the game when the team needed a 3 or a tough shot against all-out defensive effort. Joe was able to come through time and again. 

Joe isn’t a superstar, and because he’s paid like one and (at least in the past) has been billed as one, people seem to overlook a lot of the really good things about him as a player. When healthy, you can always count on Joe to play big minutes, to take big shots, to put in work defensively, and guard the opposition’s best player if need be. 

One of Joe’s most impressive traits is his ability to play solid defense without fouling. He’s not a gambler, but he still winds up forcing his fair share of turnovers and starting run outs and fast breaks. Yet he never gets himself into foul trouble and rarely puts the other team at the line. He finished 3rd among all NBA players in PF/48 this season, averaging just 1.7 fouls per 48 minutes. 

It’s true that while Joe can be magician like getting off tough shots and scoring on 1-on-1 breakdowns, the “Iso-Joe” strategy can be a weakness at times, especially late in games against good teams. When Joe is on—or let’s just say, when it works—letting Joe dribble the shot clock down and then scoring is great, because it eats clock and demoralizes the other side. When he’s not on—or if you prefer, when the shots just don’t happen to go in—it looks awful. 

Sometimes the Hawks aren’t intending to go “Iso-Joe,” it just sort of ends up in his hands and he has to try and make a play. When it works it can salt away the clock and secure victory. When it doesn’t work it can be a key catalyst in a sizeable lead melting away in a short time. It’s typically not going to be as successful against the best teams, and sometimes Joe dribbles into a turnover that leads to a fast break the other way. But you have to remember that there aren’t that many guys on this team who are both capable and willing to take the shots and make the plays at the end of the game. 

That was especially true this season. Teague lacks the confidence to be a big time player late in the game. Zaza is just not sure handed or coordinated enough to trust in those moments. Marvin? No. Josh will definitely take the ball, but the possible negative outcomes usually outweigh the positives. With Crawford in Portland and Horford out for almost all of the season, Joe was the best option many nights, even if he was going 1-on-3 and even when he wasn’t having a particularly great game. 

Joe Johnson played in 88% of the Hawks CLUTCH minutes and had a .456 FG% in those situations (slightly higher than overall FG% of .454). Joe had just 9 assists and 8 turnovers during CLUTCH, but his P/48 was 38.1 (significantly higher than his 25.5 P/48 overall). 

The Hawks “Iso-Joe” tendencies are evident in Johnson’s shot selection and shot clock usage numbers in CLUTCH. 47% of Joe’s FGA came with less than 10 seconds remaining on the shot clock this season. In CLUTCH that number jumped to 60%. In fact, 32% of Joe’s CLUTCH FGA came with less than 5 seconds on the shot clock (up from 20% overall). 

Joe doesn’t get to the line as much as other scoring guards. We know the reasons for this. He falls away and floats in the lane on drives rather than going hard to the basket. He doesn’t pump fake guys and get them in the air and draw fouls on jump shots. 87% of Joe’s FGA this season were jump shots. In the CLUTCH, that number rose to 92%. 

He still gets a fair amount of shooting fouls, and-1 situations, and non-shooting fouls because he plays a lot; he has the ball a lot; he shoots quite a bit; and the Hawks usually try to get the ball in his hands when they have a lead late because he’s their best FT shooter. But compared with other high scoring guards Joe draws a very, very low number of fouls. 

Johnson was fouled on just 5.4% of his FG attempts this season. By comparison, Kobe Bryant was fouled on 11.8% of his FGA, and Paul Pierce was fouled on 13.8% of his FGA. When you consider that Joe took nearly 1000 shots from the floor this season (986 to be exact), you realize how many more FT’s he would have taken if he was fouled on 10% of his FGA instead of 5%. 

One thing that can be annoying is that for all the deep treys and off balance shots Joe can make falling away, he’s not as good of a free throw shooter as you think he should be. Since coming to Atlanta, Joe has always been a pretty good FT shooter, but not as good as some of his “peers.” Going into this year, Joe was an 80.4% FT shooter in his Hawks career. That’s not bad, but there are a number of big men in the league who shoot better than that from the line every year. This year Joe was really good from the line, hitting close to 85% from the stripe, finishing ahead of Kobe Bryant and right behind Paul Pierce in FT%. 

The other thing about Joe’s FT shooting is that he’s never been as good as he should be at the line in close/late situations. How many times have we seen him go to the line in a big spot needing to get both frees to either tie a game or put a game away, and he gets only 1 of 2? I can think of 6 or 7 off the top of my head. Let’s face it: you’re not that confident when he steps to the free throw line in a huge spot, needing to get both frees. But this year (at least in the regular season) Joe was an excellent clutch free throw shooter. He took 36 free throw attempts during CLUTCH time—despite being fouled on just 4 of 94 FG attempts—and made 33 of them (.917). 

Joe was on the court for 65% of the Hawks total minutes, playing 4 different positions for at least some time (he played PG and PF for a miniscule amount of time). Johnson played significant minutes at SG and SF, and he easily out-produced his counterpart at both spots overall this season. His P/48 at both positions was much better than opposing players at those positions while he was on the court (+8.2 P/48 vs. opposing SG; +9.3 P/48 vs. opposing SF). His PER was also much better than his counterpart at both spots while he was in the game (+6.50 PER at SG; +6.7 PER at SF). 

As you would expect, the Hawks were a much better offensive team with Joe on the court. His ON/OFF OPHP was +7.0. What’s interesting is that the Hawks allowed 2.1 fewer points per 100 possessions when Joe was off the court. He still had a +4.9 net points per 100 possessions number, but that ON/OFF DPHP number surprised me. 

One thing to note is that the Hawks were stronger in offensive efficiency when Joe was at small forward as opposed to shooting guard. However, they were much stronger in defensive efficiency when he was playing the 2 rather than the 3. Joe’s +/- Per 48 was better as a SG than as a small forward. His WIN% at the 2 positions is pretty interesting: .638 as a 2-guard; .511 as a small forward.  

Another interesting thing is that Joe’s ON/OFF 48 was similar to Teague’s. The Hawks had a +5.2 net differential per 48 minutes with Joe on the court and a -0.2 net differential per 48 minutes when he was off the floor. Joe’s +5.5 ON/OFF 48 was slightly better than Teague’s, but significantly weaker than Josh Smith’s. 

There’s one more thing that needs to be talked about. This was the first season since Al Harrington left after Johnson’s first year in Atlanta that Joe wasn’t the no-doubt main man offensively for the team. When Al Horford went down, it left Joe and Josh as the only 2 primary scoring threats. Josh stepped up and took on a bigger role offensively, which had both good and bad results. 

But the point here is that the Hawks ran a lot of plays for Josh this season. He took a lot of outside shots and tried to be more of a scorer near the basket as well. While he may not have been a better scoring option than Joe, Josh was arguably more involved in the offense this season than Johnson. 

Joe’s FGA/G fell off again this season, and he ended up taking 1.2 fewer shots per game than Josh. No teammate had ever taken more shots per game than Joe since coming to Atlanta, and it had never really been that close either. Joe’s USG% fell way off and was lower than it had been since the 2005-2006 season. In fact, Josh Smith was the first teammate to have a higher USG% than Joe since Al Harrington did in Johnson’s first year with Atlanta in 05-06. 

Joe seemed to adapt to the change well. He became much more of an outside shooting threat and made that a bigger part of his game. When he needed to be the man late in the game he was still comfortable and capable in that role. It will be very interesting to see how everything fits together next year when Al is back in the lineup. 

Statistics: Joe had a decidedly better season this year than last year all around. In many ways this was one of his best years since coming to Atlanta. He did miss at least 6 games for a 3rd straight season, but his MPG dropped only a tiny bit from last year despite the knee problem and the compacted schedule. 

Joe’s FG% was up .011 from  2010-2011. His 3PT% was up .091 from the year before and was his best ever mark as a Hawk. And while I talked about Joe not always being the most automatic guy at the line, his FT% was up .047 from the previous season and was the best of his career. Joe’s P/G increased by 0.6 from the year before, but his R/G fell by 0.3 and his A/G dropped by a fairly significant 0.8. His S/G, B/G, and TOV/G improved slightly. 

Joe improved in the key advanced metrics as well this season. He had a major improvement from 2010-2011 in PER, with a 2.04 increase to 18.50. Joe’s 55.7 TS% was up 4.0 from the year before and was his best number since 2006-2007. His EFG was up .040 to .521 and that was also his best mark since 2006-2007. He increased his WS/48 by 0.65 from the year before, finishing at .145 WS/48, the best number of his career. 

Joe’s per 48 minute numbers basically mirrored his per game stats. He increased his P/48 by 0.8 from the year before, and was up 0.2 in both S/48 and B/48, but his R/48 fell by 0.5 and his A/48 dropped by 1.2. He averaged 0.1 fewer TOV/48. 

Floor Time Stats/Team Rankings (Unqualified)
MIN%: 65% (3rd)         
+/- Per 48: +5.2 (4th)
ON/OFF 48: +5.5 (3rd)
+/- W-L-T: 36-22-2
WIN%: 62.1 (4th)
ON/OFF OPHP: +7.0 (3rd)
ON/OFF DPHP: +2.1 (T-12th)
ON/OFF NPHP: +4.9 (3rd)

Team Leaderboard: Johnson led the Hawks in FT% (.849), 3PM (125), 3PA (322), EFG (.521), MPG (35.5), 3PM/G (2.1), 3PA/G (5.4), P/G (18.8), PF/G (1.3), PF/48 (1.7), and OWS (4.4).

Joe was tied for 1st on the team in OFF-PPP (1.08).

Joe was 2nd on the team in FGM (423), FGA (931), FTM (158), FTA (186), PTS (1129), ATO (2.00), PPS (1.213), FGM/G (7.1), FGA/G (15.5), FTM/G (2.6), FTA/G (3.1), P/48 (25.5), 2PM (298), 2PA (609), 2PM/G (5.0), 2PA/G (10.1), SPF (0.64), TOV% (10.3), USG% (24.9), WS (6.4), PER (18.50), VA (253.9), EWA (8.5), +/- (+232), +/- Per 48 (+5.2), WIN% (62.1), PRO/OPP (+7.1), ON/OFF (+5.5), SIMRAT (+6.6).

Joe was tied for 2nd on the team in DEF-PPP (1.03).

Joe was 3rd on the team in G (60), GS (60), MIN (2127), FG% (.454), 3PT% (.388), AST (232), A/G (3.9), 2P% (.489), A/48 (5.2), TOV/48 (2.6), A% (19.7), ORAT (110), WS/48 (.145), TS% (.557), TOVRAT (8.5), MIN% (65%).  

On the negative side, Joe was 3rd on the team in TOV (116).

NBA Leaderboard: Here are Joe’s appearances on the NBA leaderboard. 

PF/48 (3rd)
3PM (8th)
3PA (9th)
3PM/G (9th)
3PA/G (9th)
P/G (18th)
FGA (19th)
PF/G (T-19th)
MPG (20th)
FGA/G (21st)
PTS (T-21st)
EFG (22nd)
FGM/G (24th)
MIN (25th)
FT% (25th)
FGM (25th)
OWS (25th)
P/48 (26th)
SPF (29th)
A/G (32nd)
WS (32nd)
+/- (32nd)
USG% (34th)
VA (34th)  
EWA (34th)
3PT% (37th)
TOV% (39th)
ATO (41st)
AST (T-42nd)
2PM (46th)
A/48 (46th)
2PA (48th)
A% (49th)
GS (50th)
FG% (51st)
WS/48 (51st)

Season Review: Joe played in each of the team’s first 32 games (all as a starter) before missing the final 2 games before the ASG with a knee injury. He played in the first game after the ASG, but then sat out the next 4 due to the knee issue. After returning, he played the final 27 games, all as a starter. 

Joe’s production was way down in February, perhaps due to the ailing knee, perhaps due to some fatigue, perhaps due to tougher competition, or maybe a combination of all 3. In March, when Joe came back from the knee problem, he played his most minutes of the season and was at his best. He was also very good in April but played fewer minutes. 

Overall, Joe was much better after the ASG. Through February, Joe had played in 33 of 35 games, averaging 35.8 MPG, and shooting .423/.341/.880, while producing 17.6 P/G, 3.5 R/G, 3.7 A/G, 0.7 S/G, and 0.2 B/G with 1.8 TOV/G. During March and April, Joe played in 27 of 31 games, averaging 35.0 MPG. He shot .494/.443/.819 and averaged 20.3 P/G, 3.9 R/G, 4.0 A/G, 0.9 S/G, and 0.2 B/G with 2.1 TOV/G. As you can see he was better in nearly every category during those final 2 months. 

2012 Postseason Grade: C

Grade Explanation: Gets passing grade but did not play very well overall. Level of competition he faced and percentage of the load he was asked to carry must be taken into consideration. Started all 6 games and led team in minutes and points. Underperformed compared to regular season, particularly in 3PT% and FT%. Disappeared at times. Made a number of costly turnovers. Was badly outplayed by counterpart players on Boston, who he also struggled to contain on  defensive end. Made some big shots but also missed a number of big shots. Played poorly in game 1 win and was a total non-factor in blowout loss in game 4. Played pretty well in games 2 and 3. Played okay in games 5 and 6. Did not play great in any game during series. Certainly did not perform like a “superstar” or justify his $18 million dollar salary.

Statistics: Joe started all 6 games against Boston, playing 40.5 MPG, and shooting .373/.250/.750. He averaged 17.2 P/G, 3.5 R/G, 3.5 A/G, 1.3 S/G, and 0.2 B/G with 2.7 TOV/G. Looking simply at that line, you could make the case that this was Joe’s worst postseason as an Atlanta Hawks player. 

All the numbers were way down from the season, and most of that had more to do with playing a very good team than Joe not playing well under pressure or something. Again, Joe’s paid like a superstar and has been billed as one in the past, but he’s not, and his performance against the best competition in the biggest games is one of the biggest strikes against him. 

Joe led the team in minutes, playing 243 of 293 in the series, and led the team in points (103), steals (8), and P/48. He had a +/- of -9 for the series (7th out of 13) and a 2-4 W-L-T. Not coincidentally, that was also the team’s overall record in the series. Joe had an 11.7 PER for the series (6th), amassed 0.2 WS (tied 5th), and .042 WS/48 (8th). 

Obviously those are ugly numbers, especially for the team’s top player (at least in theory). 

Postseason Review: On the whole, this was not a good postseason for Joe. He had some good moments in the series and made some very big shots, but overall he just didn’t play very well. He had a very good regular season from behind the arc but was way off in the postseason. He made only 9 of 36 3PA (.250) during the Boston series. Based on his regular season 3PT%, Joe should have made 14 of 36 3PA. In games 2 and 3 he did hit some big shots late (although even in those games he also missed some shots late) but couldn’t deliver a victory. In games 1, 4, 5, and 6 he had a total of 3 4th quarter points.

The Celtics did a good job of containing him overall. Joe’s FT shooting was also way off from his regular season numbers, and he turned the ball over more than usual. Joe had a tough defensive assignment in this series, as he was asked to guard various players, several of whom are extremely tough to guard. He had trouble stopping Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Ray Allen, but in fairness to Joe, most players have a hard time with that trio. 

Many, many times during the series Joe played very tough D against Rondo or Pierce and he was simply beaten by better offense. Other times Joe went to help against one of the C’s players who are tough to stop (Rondo, Pierce, Garnett, Allen, etc.) and ended up allowing his man to get open for a good look. And I’m not mentioning that to say that Joe made dumb decisions. I’m saying that it was very much pick your poison.

Joe was off dramatically in the Hawks game 1 win at home, going just 3 of 15 overall, 0 for 9 on 3’s, and 5 of 8 from the line. He played 38 minutes and scored 11 points with 4 boards and 5 assists against 4 turnovers. Joe did not play well in the 4th quarter and was a big part of what was looking more and more like a collapse, until the Hawks got the benefit of a foul called on Brandon Bass on a loose ball.  Rajon Rondo then blew up for a pair of enormous technical fouls for berating and then bumping the ref.  Despite his ice cold shooting, Joe’s +/- number for game 1 was +24, 7 points higher than the next best number for anyone on the team. 

Joe actually started the playoffs on a good note outside of some missed wide open 3’s. He had 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists against no turnovers in the 1st quarter of the series. He also drew 3 fouls and went 3 of 4 at the line in the 1st. Johnson got ATL’s 1st score of the postseason just 22 seconds into game 1, scoring from close in on a pass from Smith to make it 2-0 in favor of the home team.  He hit from 19-feet out about 4 minutes into the game to make the score 18-6, as the Hawks got off to a blisteringly hot start. He made a nice lob pass to Marvin for a dunk that made it 24-10. 

But after scoring on his 1st two shots, Joe may have gotten lured into taking 3’s simply because he was so wide open and because the Hawks had a chance to put Boston in a major hole. About halfway through the 1st quarter Joe fired a 3PA late in the shot clock and missed. Josh rebounded and fired it back out to a wide open Johnson, but Joe bricked it from 3 again. Joe missed again from 3-point range with 5:05 left in the 1st, making him 0 for 3 from the 3-point line over the last minute of game time.  

It was 31-18 Atlanta after 1. Joe missed another 3 early in the 2nd before scoring in the paint to make it 38-25. Joe got his next shot blocked by Mickael Pietrus, but he dished to Josh for a score on a driving layup with 4:43 left in the half to make it 44-25. That was his final assist of the game. In the final 3-and-a-half minutes of the half, Joe missed from inside the paint, threw the ball away twice, and went just 1 for 2 at the line. 

Nevertheless, the Hawks led by 14 at halftime. Unfortunately for Joe, his play continued on a downward path early in the 3rd quarter. In the first 5 minutes of the 3rd, Joe had 1 rebound, turned it over again with another bad pass, and missed 2 more open 3’s. He missed a jumper with less than 3 minutes to play in the 3rd. Despite Joe being just 1 for his last 10 in the game, the Hawks still led by 15 points as the clock went inside 2 minutes remaining in the quarter. 

With Atlanta leading by 12, Joe started the 4th on the bench. By the time he reentered the game with 9:14 left on the clock the lead was down to 8. He immediately missed another 3. He missed a long 3 with 6-and-a-half to play that would have pushed the lead back to 13. With the C’s on a 6-0 run and the lead cut to 6 points, Joe got it stolen again at the 5-minute mark. He missed a long 3, late in the shot clock with just under 4 minutes to play, and the C’s scored on the other end to make it a 5-point game with 3-and-a-half minutes left. 

The missed shots and turnovers by Joe and Josh had helped the C’s make their rally, and in the final minutes there was a hint of that fear/panic feeling of everything falling apart and not being able to stop it. Who knows what would have happened if Josh had not been standing near the top of the circle when Joe got it knocked away from him with less than a minute to play and then gone to the floor where Brandon Bass jumped on him and was called for a foul. 

Not only did that save the Hawks from another turnover, it led to Rondo’s demonstrative response to that call, which in turn led to him being T’d up. That technical foul led to Rondo completely losing it and bumping the ref, which led to the ref giving him another tech. The bump got Rondo kicked out of the rest of this game and the next one. 

Most importantly it gave the Hawks enough chances at the line to basically put the game away. Joe hit the first tech FT, but missed the 2nd. The Hawks hung on, despite Joe going 0 for 3 from the field (all from behind the arc) and 1 for 2 from the free throw line for 1 point with 1 turnover in the 4th

After making his first 2 shots of the game, Joe went 1 for 13 the rest of the way. In the 1st quarter Joe had 7 points (2/5 from the floor, 0 for 3 from the arc, 3 for 4 at the line), 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 0 turnovers, and 3 fouls drawn without committing a foul. Over the final 3 quarters, Joe had 4 points (1/10 from the field, 0 for 6 from behind the arc, 2 for 4 at the line), 1 rebound, 1 assist, 4 turnovers, and 2 fouls drawn. 

Joe played much better in game 2, going 7 for 17 from the floor, 3 of 8 from behind the arc, and 5 for 6 at the line. He again played 38 minutes, this time scoring 22 point with 4 boards, 5 assists against 3 turnovers, and 3 steals. However, it wasn’t enough to get the Hawks the win, even with Rondo suspended. Paul Pierce ended up taking this one over, as Joe couldn’t figure out a way to stop him without fouling. Joe racked up a highly unusual 4 personal fouls and ended up with a +/- number of -3 for the game. 

Even though the C’s were down in the series and missing Rondo and Allen, this was still a bigger game for the Hawks, because if they lost home court advantage things would immediately turn in Boston’s favor. Joe had needed the team to pick him up in game 1, and he needed to respond with a big game in game 2. 

He dished to Josh for a dunk early in game 2 to make it 4-4, but the Celtics scored the next 5 points. Joe drove and scored on a layup to get on the board 3 minutes into the game, and on the ensuing Boston possession he stole the ball from Pierce and knocked it to Josh for a breakaway that should have made it a 1-point game. Instead, Josh tried a ridiculous bit of showboating and missed the dunk. 

With just under 7 minutes to play in the 1st quarter Joe drove to the basket again and tipped in his own missed shot to tie the score at 11-11. On the next ATL possession Joe missed from 3-point land, making him 0 for 10 from beyond the arc in the series, but he broke the streak on the next Hawks possession, nailing a 3 late in the shot clock to make it a 1-point game. Pierce missed a jumper on the ensuing Boston possession, and Joe rebounded and passed up ahead to Hinrich who buried a 3 to give Atlanta their first lead of the game. 

The next rest of the 1st quarter went badly for Joe. He missed a shot from inside the paint and picked up 2 fouls in less than 2 minutes and had to come out of the game. Still he scored 7 points and had 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal in the 1st. With 5-and-a-half minutes left in the 2nd quarter Joe found Teague for a wide open 3 that tied the score. Then he got the ball to Josh for an easy score on a fast break to give the Hawks a 36-34 lead. With 4 minutes left in the half Joe was called for traveling, but he scored from inside on the next ATL possession, and dished to Josh for a layup on the possession after that to give the Hawks a 6-point lead. 

At the half the Hawks led by 3, and Joe had 9 points (4 for 7), 5 assists against 1 turnover, 2 rebounds and a steal. Joe scored the Hawks first 5 points of the 2nd half, nailing a 3 and sinking a pair of free throws to extend the Atlanta lead to 8, but it could have been even bigger. In between the 3 and the FT’s, Joe stole the ball from Pierce and drove to the bucket but couldn’t get a layup to fall, and then stole the ball from Pierce again but missed a short jumper. 

Over the next 6 minutes Joe missed a pair of 3’s but drew an offensive foul from KG and the Hawks increased their lead to 11. Kevin Dooling’s 3 got the C’s back to within single digits with 3-and-a-half to play in the 3rd, but Joe answered with a 3 to push it back to 11. 

The Hawks were only up by 5 at the start of the 4th, but Joe sat for the first 2-and-a-half minutes, and by the time he came back in it was just a 2-point game. The C’s soon tied it, but Joe scored from just inside the free throw line to give the Hawks a 70-68 lead. 

Boston soon retook the lead and at the TV timeout with 5:07 to go the Hawks were down 74-72. Out of the timeout Joe tried to make something happen but got called for a charge. At the 4:20 mark Josh Smith exited the game with a knee injury. The C’s trapped Joe near the 3-point line on the next ATL possession and Pietrus knocked Joe’s pass to Paul Pierce. Pierce and Bradley ran a fast break and Pierce jammed to put the Hawks down by 4. Moments later Pierce hit a 3 to put Boston ahead 7 with just 3-and-a-half minutes to play. 

The stretch of the game from the 6-minute mark to 3:29 when the Hawks called time following the Pierce 3 was key. Josh got hurt, and Joe turned the ball over twice, with one of the turnovers leading to a dunk for Pierce. 

It wasn’t looking good for the Hawks but there was still time to rally. Joe hit a pair of FT’s to make it a 4-point game with 2:18 to play. Joe drew another foul on the next Hawks possession, and he had a chance to trim the lead to 2 points with 90 seconds still to play. Joe missed the first one. 

Even though the game should still have been in doubt at that point, Joe’s miss had a devastating effect. For most people, that miss ended the Hawks chances. Joe hit the 2nd FT to make it a 1-possesion game, but KG got fouled at the other end and hit a pair to make it a 5-point game. Joe then missed from 3 and Pierce hit a pair of free throws to close out the disappointing loss for the Hawks. He scored 5 points and had 2 rebounds in the 4th, but he also had 2 turnovers. 

Joe’s best game came when the Hawks were depending on him most, in game 3, with Josh, Al, and Zaza out, and Rondo and Allen back in for the C’s. Joe played 46 of 53 minutes, as the game went into overtime. He didn’t exactly shoot lights out, going 11 for 28 overall, but he hit 3 of 7 treys and 4 of 5 FT attempts. He finished with 29 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, a block, and 2 turnovers. In the end, it wasn’t enough. Joe’s +/- number for the game was -5, but he entered overtime with a +1 mark for the night. 

Joe was called for traveling on Atlanta’s first possession, but he dished to a cutting Marvin Williams for a layup that gave the Hawks their first points and tied the game at 2-2 about 90 seconds in. Johnson missed his first shot of the night (a 3-pointer), but with 7:20 left in the opening quarter he drove to the basket and laid one up and in to get on the board and give the Hawks an 11-10 lead. 

He missed his next shot (mid-range jumper) but then went on a bit of a run in the final 5 minutes of the quarter, scoring from inside to give the Hawks a 15-13 lead, and then banging home a 3-ball to make it a 5-point game. Moments later, Joe rebounded a jumper missed by Bass, drove back the other way and got fouled in the act of shooting. Once again Joe went 1 for 2 at the line. 

It was the 3rd straight game that Joe had a very productive 1st quarter (8 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover). Once again, the 2nd quarter was not as productive. Joe sat the first 5 minutes of the 2nd and ended up going 2 for 7 for 4 points with 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 TOV, 1 foul, and 2 of his shots blocked during the quarter. The Hawks were down 2 at the break. 

In the 3rd quarter Joe missed his first couple of shots and didn’t do much of anything as the Celtics pushed their lead to 6. But finally Joe hit another 3 with 5:22 to go in the 3rd, cutting the deficit in half. He missed a shot for the lead but then drove for a layup to put the Hawks ahead by a point with 4 to go in the 3rd. Joe missed a 3 that would have made it a 4-point lead, and the Celtics went back ahead by a point, before Johnson hit a long 2-point shot that made it 53-52 Atlanta. 

Joe went 3 for 7 to score 7 points in the quarter, but Boston led by 2 heading to the 4th. Boston pushed the lead to 8 in the first few minutes of the 4th. Joe converted a technical foul FT for illegal defense but then missed a mid-range jumper that would have made it a 3-point possession. Joe drove to the basket and missed with 6-and-a-half to play, and it wasn’t looking good, as the Hawks were now down 11. 

Jeff Teague scored 5 straight and Joe hit a pair of FT’s to cut the deficit to 6. Teague then stole the ball and passed up ahead to Joe, but Johnson once again couldn’t get a layup to go. With 3 minutes left the Hawks were down 8 in Boston and it looked over. 

The Hawks would somehow climb back in it and eventually have a chance to win, and the rally started with some resolve being shown by Johnson. The Hawks played good defense on Boston’s next possession but Rajon Rondo took advantage of Jeff Teague not paying him enough attention, slicing in for a huge offensive rebound, but instead of pulling it back out, Rondo tried to go up and score and Joe blocked him. Rondo got the ball back and went up again but Joe defended and Rondo missed. Joe grabbed the board and Willie Green hit a 3 at the other end to cut it to 80-75. 

The Hawks then got a stop and Joe hit a tough fade away with a man in his face from 11-feet to make it 80-77. Jason Collins then made a big time play, drawing an offensive foul from Pierce, and at the other end Joe lulled his man to sleep and then popped a 3 to tie it up at 80-80 with 1:23 left. It was classic Joe. 

Joe again played good defense, Rondo missed on a drive and layup, and Joe grabbed the board, but T-Mac couldn’t get a layup to fall at the other end. KG then missed a long jumper, Joe grabbed another rebound and the Hawks called timeout with 38 seconds left. Out of the timeout, Willie Green got off a decent shot late in the possession but missed. The Celtics got the rebound and called timeout with 14 seconds left. 

It was Pierce time and that meant pressure on Joe. He played it perfectly, giving up the foul with just 3 seconds left, and then after a timeout, playing super defense and avoiding fouling Pierce as he got off a long jumper that missed to send it into OT. 

Boston scored on the first possession of overtime, and Joe missed from inside on the other end, but he got his own rebound and the Hawks eventually scored to tie it up on that possession. Boston eventually went up by 4 but Joe drove inside and put a floater up over KG and in to make it a 2-point game with 1:45 to play. Joe rebounded a long jumper by Rondo that missed and then drew a foul with a minute to play. 

Eventually Joe got off a mid-range jumper for the tie that wouldn’t go and Boston scored on a follow jam by Garnett to go up 4 with only 28 seconds left. Joe then missed a 3-point try, Boston rebounded, and that was basically that. Joe had 8 points, 3 boards, and a block in the 4th, but he had just 2 points on 1 of 4 shooting and 3 boards in the OT.  

Joe didn’t have anywhere near enough in game 4. Perhaps he was tired, or perhaps he was thrown off by trying to incorporate both Josh and Al back into the flow. He hit 4 of 8 shots, but missed his only 3-pt try and was 1 of 2 at the line. Joe had just 9 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, and a turnover in 31 minutes, as the Hawks got steamrolled. He finished with a -21 +/- for game 4 (worst on the team). 

Joe hit a long jumper on the Hawks’ 1st possession of the game to make it 2-0 Atlanta. That would be the Hawks’ only lead of the game, and Joe did not take his 2nd shot of the night (a short jumper that he hit) until there was less than 5 minutes to play in the 1st quarter. Joe scored 5 points (2 jumpers and another 1 for 2 trip at the line) on 3 shots and had an assist and a rebound, but the Hawks were down 13 points by the end of 1.

Joe had another assist in the 2nd and scored inside on his only shot of the quarter, but by that time the Hawks were down 20. He scored 2 points on 4 shots in the 3rd, missing his only 3PA of the game, and then sat out the entire 4th quarter.  

With the Hawks needing a win at home to stay alive in game 5, Joe played in 45 of 48 minutes, scoring 15 points with 3 boards, 4 assists, and 2 steals. He was 2 for 2 at the line and his +/- number for the game was +2. However, he turned it over 4 times, went just 6 of 17 from the floor, 2 for 2 from the line, and hit just 1 of 5 3-pt tries. But this time it was enough to get the win and send it back to Boston. 

Early on in game 5 Joe stole the ball from Avery Bradley but got it stolen right back. It was a 2nd straight quiet 1st quarter for Joe, as he had 2 points on 1 of 4 shooting, 2 rebounds, 2 fouls, and an assist on a Jeff Teague 3-pointer. In the 2nd he stole the ball from Rondo but then stepped out of bounds to give it back, 1 of 2 turnovers in the quarter. 

But Joe did go on a burst in the 2nd, scoring 9 points with a rebound and an assist. He went 3 for 7 from the floor, 1 for 3 from behind the arc, and 2 for 2 at the line in the 2nd. He hit a 3 to tie the score at 37-37 with 45 seconds to play in the half. 

Joe was extremely quiet in the 3rd, scoring just 2 points on 3 shots. He had an awful turnover with 4 seconds left, as Ray Allen stole the ball and got it to Mickael Pietrus for a last second score that cut the Atlanta lead to 66-64. Joe was also just 1 for 3 for 2 points in the 4th quarter, but he made some good plays late. 

He dished out an assist to Al on a jumper that gave the Hawks an 87-83 lead with 1:34 left. With the Hawks up by just a point, Joe played super defense on Pierce, sticking right on him and challenging without giving up a foul. Pierce shot with 19 seconds left and missed. Despite Josh’s horrible inbounds pass a few moments later, the Hawks hung on to win by 1. 

In game 6 the Hawks were again facing a must win, this time in a very hostile environment. Joe played 44 of 48 minutes, scoring 17 points on 7 of 17 shooting, including 2 of 6 from 3-point land. He had just 1 rebound, 2 assists, a steal, and 2 turnovers, finishing with a +/- number of -6 for the game. He made his only free throw, but other than that technical FT he did not get to the line all night, and the Hawks came up just short in their bid to take it back home for a game 7. 

Joe got off to a terrible start in game 6, scoring 3 points on 1 of 5 shooting (0 for 2 on 3’s, 1 for 1 at the line) with 1 assist in the 1st quarter. It was his 3rd consecutive quiet 1st quarter. He went 2 for 3 in the 2nd, missing his only 3-point try. He also had a couple of turnovers that led to 4 Boston points the other way. Joe scored all 4 of his 2nd quarter points in the last 2 minutes before the half, including an 18-footer that cut the deficit to 6 with 5 seconds left. 

Joe came out strong in the 3rd, hitting a long jumper on his 1st attempt of the 2nd half. On the next Atlanta possession Joe rebounded Josh’s long jumper and put it back up and in to get the Hawks within 6 again. A 3-pointer by Ray Allen put the Hawks behind by 8 with only 2 minutes left in the 3rd. Joe got the Hawks back within 5 on a 3-ball with 1 minute to go in the quarter. He then nailed another one to make it 65-63 with 26 seconds left. Unfortunately, Rondo hit a long, contested jumper at the buzzer to push the C’s lead back to 4 heading to the 4th. Joe finished the 3rd with 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting (2 for 3 from deep) with 1 rebound. 

Unfortunately, Joe was unable to get anything going in the final—and perhaps most important—quarter of the season. He had 1 assist and a steal but went 0 for 3 from the floor and did not score. 

Joe assisted on an Al Horford 20-footer that cut the deficit to 2 on Atlanta’s 1st possession of the 4th, but Boston went on a 7-0 run after that while the Hawks went scoreless over 5:02. The Hawks then went on a 12-2 run to turn a 9-point deficit into a 3-point lead with just 2:23 to go.

Pierce drove to the bucket and scored to make it a 1-point game with 2:04 to play. With a minute to go Joe missed an 18-footer that would have given the Hawks a 3-point advantage. Kevin Garnett put Boston ahead by a point on a mid-range jumper with just 30 seconds left. 

As discussed in an earlier entry, every Hawks player (including Joe) was within 1 foot of the 3-point line when Josh took that ugly shot and missed, despite the fact that the Hawks were only behind by a point. 

Ray Allen missed 1 of 2 FT’s, meaning the Hawks could tie with a 2 or take the lead on a 3 with just 9 seconds remaining. The Hawks advanced the ball to midcourt with a timeout, Joe got the ball back after inbounding it, and went hard to the rack to try and score or at least get fouled. I have to say I appreciate what Joe was trying to do here. There was no time to mess around and he had not been shooting well, so he tried to do it at the rim. He was also willing to take the last shot and he was willing to do it at the free throw line if need be. 

Unfortunately, Paul Pierce played excellent defense on the play, staying right with Joe and blocking his attempt out of bounds without fouling. If you focus solely on the ball, it looks like Pierce’s block is clean. However, if you watch Pierce’s defense before Johnson went up for the layup you can see that he had his left arm hooked on Joe’s right arm and then shoved Joe in the back with his left forearm as he went up for the shot. 

What’s interesting is that for some reason this play was recorded incorrectly by whatever service is responsible for the play-by-play data used by every basketball site I have checked. I’ve yet to find a website that does not have this play as “Paul Pierce blocks Marvin Williams’ layup.” And it’s not just the play-by-play data that is affected. On all the sites I’ve checked, Joe is recorded as being 7 for 17 in game 6, but he should be 7 for 18 in the game. 

Considering the technology we have today and the amount of attention focused on pro sports, when you see something like that it makes you wonder how many inaccuracies there were in the past. I mean, considering that no video exists, are we sure Wilt didn’t have 99 points? Maybe he scored 101. Who really knows for sure. Anyway, what we all know is that Al eventually went to the line and made only 1 of 2 free throws and the Hawks fell short in game 6. 

Moving Forward: The Hawks and all of us fans are just stuck with Joe for awhile. There’s no denying it: while the Hawks have a better chance of making the playoffs every year with Joe, their chances of being a legitimate contender for the title would be better if they were not shackled to his contract. On the other hand, there are worse guys to be stuck overpaying. 

The biggest concern with Joe is that his game will decline precipitously over the next few years as he enters his 30’s. He’s unlikely to get any better, but hopefully he won’t have the sort of rapid decline that a lot of basketball people have predicted since that 2nd deal was announced. It will also be interesting to see how Joe, Al, Josh, and Teague all fit together next year. And it will be interesting to see if Joe can match the outside shooting numbers he put up this season. 

Stat Glossary 

Total Stats
Games Played (GP)
Games Started (GS)
Minutes Played (MIN)
Field Goal Percentage (FG%)
Three Point Field Goal Percentage (3PT%)
Free Throw Percentage (FT%)
Field Goals Made (FGM)
Field Goal Attempts (FGA)
Three Pointers Made (3PM)
Three Point Attempts (3PA)
Free Throws Made (FTM)
Free Throw Attempts (FTA)
Two Pointers Made (2PM)
Two Point Attempts (2PA)
Two Point Field Goal Percentage (2P%)
Offensive Rebounds (OR)
Defensive Rebounds (DR)
Total Rebounds (REB)
Assists (AST)
Steals (STL)
Blocks (BLK)
Turnovers (TOV)
Personal Fouls (PF)
Points (PTS)
Flagrant Fouls (Flagrants)
Technical Fouls (Techs)
Ejections (Ejections)
Foul Outs (DQ’s)
Double-Doubles (DD)
Triple-Doubles (TD)

Per Game Stats
Minutes Per Game (MPG)
Field Goals Made Per Game (FGM/G)
Field Goal Attempts Per Game (FGA/G)
Three Pointers Made Per Game (3PM/G)
Three Point Attempts Per Game (3PA/G)
Free Throws Made Per Game (FTM/G)
Free Throw Attempts Per Game (FTA/G)
Two Pointers Made Per Game (2PM/G)
Two Point Attempts Per Game (2PA/G)
Offensive Rebounds Per Game (OR/G)
Defensive Rebounds Per Game (DR/G)
Total Rebounds Per Game (R/G)
Assists Per Game (A/G)
Steals Per Game (S/G)
Blocks Per Game (B/G)
Turnovers Per Game (TOV/G)
Points Per Game (P/G)
Personal Fouls Per Game (PF/G)

Per 48 Minute Stats
Points Per 48 Minutes (P/48)
Rebounds Per 48 Minutes (R/48)
Assists Per 48 Minutes (A/48)
Steals Per 48 Minutes (S/48)
Blocks Per 48 Minutes (B/48)
Personal Fouls Per 48 Minutes (PF/48)

Ratio Stats
Assist-to-Turnover Ratio (ATO)
Steal-to-Turnover Ratio (STO)
Steal-to-Personal Foul Ratio (SPF)
Block-to-Personal Foul Ratio (BPF)
Points Scored Per Shot Attempt (PPS)

Percentage Stats
Offensive Rebound Percentage (OR%) (% of available OR player grabbed while on floor)
Defensive Rebound Percentage (DR%) (% of available DR player grabbed while on floor)
Total Rebound Percentage (R%) (% of available REB player grabbed while on floor)
Assist Percentage (A%) (% of teammate FG’s player assisted on while on floor)
Steal Percentage (S%) (% of opp’s possessions ended with steal by player while on floor)
Block Percentage (B%) (% of opp’s 2-pt FGA’s block by player while on floor)
Turnover Percentage (TOV%) (Turnovers per 100 possessions)

Hollinger Stats
True Shooting Percentage (TS%) (Takes into account value of 2-pt, 3-pt, and FT)
Assist Ratio (ARAT) (% of possessions ended with Assist by player)
Turnover Ratio (TOVRAT) (% of possessions ended with TOV by player)
Usage Rate (USG%) (% of team plays used by player while on floor)
Player Efficiency Rating (PER) (Player’s per minute statistical rating)
Value Added (VA) (# of pts player adds to team above replacement level)
Estimated Wins Added (EWA) (# of wins player adds above replacement level)

NBA Stats
Effective Field Goal Percentage (EFG) (Adjusts for 3-pt being worth more than 2-pt)
Offensive Rating (ORAT) (Points produced by player per 100 possessions)
Defensive Rating (DRAT) (Points allowed by player per 100 possessions)
Offensive Win Shares (OWS) (# of wins contributed by player due to offense)
Defensive Win Shares (DWS) (# of wins contributed by player due to defense)
Win Shares (WS) (# of wins contributed by player)
Win Shares Per 48 Minutes (WS/48) (# of wins contributed by player per 48 minutes) Stats
Minutes Percentage (MIN%) (% of team minutes player was on floor)
Net Plus/Minus (+/-) (Net pts for team while player on floor)
Offensive Points Per Possession (OFF-PPP) (Team Off PPP while player on floor)
Defensive Points Per Possession (DEF-PPP) (Team Def PPP while player on floor)
Net Plus/Minus Per 48 Minutes (+/- Per 48) (Team net pts per 48 of PT for player)
On Court W-L Record (+/- W-L-T) (# of gms team outscored/didn’t outscore opponent while player was on floor)
Win Percentage (WIN%) (W-L-T in win pct form)
Net Production vs. Opponent (PRO/OPP) (How player fared vs. counterpart)
Net On Court vs. Off Court Per 48 Minutes (ON/OFF 48) (Team +/- while player on/off court per 48 minutes)
Simple Rating (SIMRAT) (Taken from combo PRO/OPP and ON/OFF 48)
Net On Court vs. Off Court Offensive Points per 100 Possessions (ON/OFF OPHP) (Team’s offensive points per 100 possessions while player on/off court)
Net On Court vs. Off Court Defensive Points per 100 Possessions (ON/OFF DPHP) (Team’s defensive points per 100 possessions while player on/off court)
Net On Court vs. Off Court Points per 100 Possessions (ON/OFF NPHP) (Team’s offensive points per 100 possessions vs. team’s defensive points per 100 possessions while player on/off court)
Clutch Situations (CLUTCH) (4th quarter or overtime, less than 5 minutes left, neither team ahead by more than 5 points)

If you’re confused about a stat or abbreviation you can check this glossary. Many of the abbreviations are ones I came up with just for shorthand. If you want further explanation/info on the stats, check out the sites listed within the glossary.