Joe Johnson: Don't Panic Quite Yet

Where has that silky smooth jumper gone? (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Joe Johnson is averaging significantly less (17.1) points per game than at anytime throughout his career and is it time for Hawks fans to panic about his production?

More after the jump 

MC touches on this subject in a blog post today and using synergy statistics, points out that Joe Johnson is missing a multitude of spot up jump shots. 

And the numbers confirmed what I’ve perceived: Joe has attempted 54 spot-up jump shots and made just 11 (20.4 percent), including 9 of 46 on 3-pointers (19.6 percent).

Now lets keep this in mind, this is not iso-Joe. These are spot up jump shots many of which have come with little or no resistance from the defense. This isn't about losing athleticism or having a harder time getting his shot off. This is simply him missing shots and as MC also points out many of them are good wide open shots. 

Currently Johnson is averaging 17.1 points on 40.8% percent shooting from the field. He is also shooting 25.6% from three point range. Going back to last November Joe shot 43% from the field and only 31% from three point range. He did still manage to average 21 points a game but was attempting almost four shots a game more than he has this season. Looking back to the 2008-09 season, Johnson again shot 43% from the field but was hitting on around 38% of his three point attempts. He was averaging almost nineteen shot attempts per game which is four more shot attempts than the fifteen that he has averaged in November this season. Those numbers show a pretty significant decline but here is why I am not ready to panic. 

In every one of those seasons, December was typically one of Johnson's best months. In 08-09 his shooting percentage jumped to 47% and his scoring average went up to 24 points per game. Last season Johnson's shooting percentage jumped from 43% in November to 50% in December. Typically this is the month that Johnson's game takes off. The scoring average is down significantly and that is concerning but so are the attempts and it as not as big a problem with Al Horford and Josh Smith shouldering much more of the offensive burden. According to Hoopdata.com, Johnson's usage rate is down to 25.07 which is the lowest number since joining the Hawks. His minutes per game (35.6) and shot attempts (15.5) are both down from last season. 

We knew a shift in philosophy would have a profound effect on Johnson. So far it has limited his touches and opportunities but the goal was to spread the wealth around to players like Horford and Smith to make the Hawks less predictable. As MC points out, Johnson is missing spot up opportunities which I think should even itself out over the long haul. I would be much more worried if I were seeing him having difficulties in getting his shot off. Despite Johnson's minutes and usage going down his assist numbers are slightly up from last season. Right now those missing jump shots are the only thing preventing him from being right on par for his career numbers. 

So I am not panicking yet and we will check the numbers again in January. If come January the shooting percentage is still around 40% then we might be ready to take cover for the sky might be starting to fall. 

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