It is official. Joe Johnson is a new man. This was not even hyperbolic, over emotional Joe. The Hawks had just beaten the Denver Nuggets as soundly as they had lost the night before. And anyone is right to not get overly hyped about the win. The Nuggets were missing two starters after all. But man is Joe not happy about Charlotte or what?
Johnson, for one, was still smarting from the Charlotte loss, saying "I think we still have a little bit of immaturity on this team. And that's something we've got to look forward to working on. In no way possible should Charlotte beat us by 20, even though they were at home."
This is not a Joe Johnson hate parade. I thought Joe's attitude during the game was great. He was fouling hard, fighting inside for rebounds, and for the most part making the team better. And to be honest, Joe still harping on the Charlotte game makes me like his first comments even more. That loss was not acceptable, and just because every team is going to have some unacceptable losses does not mean they need to be taken lightly. I don't think KG or Kobe or LeBron are just going to ho hum 20 point losses to non playoff teams because they are inevitable facts of the NBA.
The more it looks like Joe is not emotionally pouting in the locker room but actually not satisfied with losing, the more I like it. High expectations from the players is never a bad thing.
However, on a night where the Hawks showed some maturity on offense and performed at a highly efficient rate, it seems only right to take that brooding anger of Joe and turn it at him. Because if Joe believes this team should win every game and projects that belief onto his teammates instead of trusting only himself, this team could actually be pretty special.
I rewatched the game. Charting every half court offensive possession. After the jump, I have typed out Joe Johnson's possessions. I have put in bold his one on one play. I should note I defined one on one play as anything that involves stagnant dribbling, uncalled for, out of rhythm shots, or offensive sets that should be obviously passed out of. I stopped charting after Josh Smith's block of Birdman and Joe Johnson's open three in the fourth because that was pretty much the end of the game.
Joe Johnson on offense.
- Comes off screens, quick dribble, and shoots makes.
- One one one play miss.
- Iso post up, drive miss.
- Dribble drive, quick layup make.
- Dribble for jumper. One on one. Miss. Leads to carmello easy shot.
- Over dribbles into turnover. Chauncey three pointer.
- Dribbled into double team out of it and then back in for a made jumper.
- Steps through double team, makes jumper.
- Iso quick shot through double team, miss.
- Post up, doubled dribbles out, but quickly passes to a cutting joe smith. Make.
- Sits with the ball on a zone double team. Passes to Teague with little time left who shoots jumper and misses.
- Dribbles too much gets doubled and throws it away.
- Handed ball on perimeter no one comes out to defend. Nails a three.
- One on one but in an advantageous switch. Shoots jumper fouled.
- One on one. Missed jumper.
- Runner missed. Heavily contested.
- Made three off ball movement.
That is eight one on one plays for Joe with only one (the switched defender) being acceptable. Marvin Williams and Al Horford had one apiece and Jamal Crawford had four with one coming at the end of the half. Of the eight people who played more than fifteen minutes only two shot below fifty percent, Jeff Teague and Joe Johnson. So the other six were shooting 60% from the floor for the game. If there was one night to trust your teammates, it was last night.
Joe Johnson is the Hawks best scorer. Under control, he can obtain the highest percentage shot the most often with the most ease. Many offensive sets should be called for Joe. He should even have the luxery to break down his defender one on one sometimes. Moreover, those six guys that shot 60% will not always do that. But the fact of the matter is only six times between them did someone take the game in their own hands and try and score. Predominantly, they did exactly what Joe Johnson wanted them to, played within the offense.
Joe did not have a bad game, but if I am going to agree with him that the Charlotte game is not acceptable if you want to be an elite team, I am going to say it is not acceptable because the Hawks have the overall talent to beat the Bobcats any night.
"I don't know when we all of a sudden just really became a selfish team," Johnson said. "Now everybody wants to go one-on-one. It's me, me, me. It's crazy, man."
And Joe's right. I don't disagree one bit with what he said after the loss to the Bobcats. The way that talent is negated is when people want to score on their own and don't trust their teammates, and only one guy was guilty of that last night.
Joe deserves to get his shots, but the fact is, he is routinely guilty of getting them in most detrimental way possible for the team and himself. Last night was no exception.
Joe is getting this leader thing down, all that is missing is practicing what he preaches, and if he does, Joe will succeed and so will this team.