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Monday, October 15th, 2012 at 11:25 am  |  33 responses

Joe Johnson Out to Get Rid of ‘Iso-Joe’ Label


Joe Johnson infamously became “Iso-Joe” in Atlanta, and he can’t wait to shed the tag as a Brooklyn Net. Deron Williams will ensure that Johnson won’t be stuck taking his man one-on-one while his teammates look on. Per the NY Times: “I don’t know where the Iso-Joe comes from,’ said Joe Johnson, sounding more bemused than annoyed. For most of his seven seasons as an Atlanta Hawk, Johnson was a reluctant solo artist, powering Coach Mike Woodson’s isolation-heavy offense while teammates stood and watched. The Hawks won a lot of games and Johnson scored a lot of points — until the playoffs, when the simplistic style faltered, leaving Johnson as the scapegoat. ‘It was cool, until I started getting double- and triple-teamed,’ Johnson said. This was an observation, not a complaint. Like any star, Johnson relished the chance to shine, even if he never viewed himself in such one-dimensional terms. As a scorer? Yes. As an iso-machine? No. The definitions and distinctions matter now that Johnson is in Brooklyn, as half of an All-Star backcourt that is expected to lead the Nets back to the playoffs. The Nets already have a do-everything point guard, Deron Williams, who can shoot, pass, drive and post up with the best of them. Johnson can also do it all — and for the last seven years has — which prompted obvious questions about compatibility and chemistry. [...] ‘When I started in Phoenix, there wasn’t no Iso-Joe,’ Johnson said. ‘I basically played off of Amar’e and Steve Nash and Shawn and those guys. This is a similar situation for me here in Brooklyn.’ Indeed, just 14.9 percent of Johnson’s possessions in 2004-5 were defined as isolation plays, according to Synergy Sports, which logs every N.B.A. play. The majority of Johnson’s scoring chances came as the ballhandler in the pick and roll (22.1 percent), on spot-up jumpers (20.3) and in transition (18.8). It was not until Johnson joined the Hawks — who made him their franchise cornerstone with a five-year, $70 million deal in 2005 — that he became an unabashed ball dominator. Johnson’s isolation play leapt to 19.1 percent of his total offense in 2005-6 and to 31.5 in 2008-9. By 2009-10, it was 36.8 — 5 points higher than LeBron James and just slightly behind Carmelo Anthony. Johnson’s isolation play dipped to 26.9 percent in 2010-11, after Woodson was fired. But by then, Iso-Joe had become a permanent part of the N.B.A. lexicon. It was not intended as a compliment. [...] He is not exactly Broadway Joe. But he is no Iso-Joe, either. The nickname needs an update. Movement Joe? No-iso Joe? Spot-up Joe? The soft-spoken fellow from Little Rock smiled broadly, as if to say: That would be just fine. ‘Yeah,’ Johnson said, chuckling. ‘Spot-up Joe.’”

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  • spit hot fiyah

    if they have a coach that knows how to actually run sets then the label will dissapear.

  • Dymez

    This will be his first time (since Phoenix) that he’s played with a point guard who can get him the ball in his spots. Can’t blame him for going Iso all day in Atlanta, nobody could make plays on that team but him. Brooklyn should feel like heaven to him.

  • danpowers

    plus people always act as if it was a players fault if he gets iso plays. its the coach who sets this up normally due to a lack of options.

  • roscoe

    he was an iso player? really? I thought he was a “where did you go in the 4th quarter” player.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    Never played with a setup type of PG. Not his fault. Blame the Hawks front office and Mike Woodson…who now runs iso for Melo just like he did for Joe in Atlanta.

  • pposse

    should be interesting to see if joe johnson can play like how he played in Phoenix the year before he signed with Atlanta. That Joe Johnson was a raw ball player, the one seen in the past 7 years…not really. If he doesn’t play like the Joe Johonson back in the Phoenix days, then himself and Deron Williams should be criticised.

  • Anthony Dixon

    no more iso if they run set plays… They should do a lot of pickn rolls and joe can spot up. Set screens for him… Keep it simple

  • R32

    One of my favorite players, but watching him and the Hawks play was very frustrating! When Drew got the head coaching job 2 seasons ago he said he was going to focus on not being so stagnent on offense. Well, that didn’t happen.

  • shockexchange

    It’s hard to shed a label he’s been working so hard to brandish over the past decade. Joe Johnson has the basketball IQ of a third grader. He needs to do what he does best and go purchase some new sneakers.

  • http://twitter.com/AjpDos Allen Powell

    This attack wasn’t based on facts. Johnson’s IQ is fine. He is what he is, and I expect him to handle his business next yar.

  • shockexchange

    At a minimum, he constantly went one-on-one and froze out his teammates when he was in ATL and his shot selection was childlike. I think that shows a lack of basketball IQ. What “facts” did you provide in your comment?

  • http://twitter.com/AjpDos Allen Powell

    None, I wasn’t making an assertion of fact, just noting that your comment lacked them.
    Joe didn’t ignore teammates. He shot the shots the offense called for him to shoot. The team depended on him to score and create scoring opportunities for everyone else. He was the best passer on the team much of his tenure. Not sure what you were watching homie.

  • elmaar

    then I guess kobe’s basketball IQ is minus

  • shockexchange

    I watched several Hawks games, and was an overpaid chuckwagon with the basketball IQ of a third grader. You are what Webster would call a “sychophant.”

  • roscoe

    ur cmmnt fits well w/ kb24 too, but i’ve nvr seen u say about kb24.

  • shockexchange

    elmaar Horry Jr’s IQ is non-existent. But he has demonstrated the uncanny ability to align himself with teams with “exceptionally more talent than the rest of the league” so he can win a chip.

  • http://twitter.com/AjpDos Allen Powell

    Could be. But I doubt it.

  • Comment_System

    You need to open a Webster’s dictionary. It’s Sycophant.

  • shockexchange

    Close enough for government work.

  • shockexchange

    Well you may not be a “sychophant” but you are definitely a sycophant, compliments of Comment_System

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    How does the comment fit Kobe? The Lakers ran the triangle. Have no idea what kind of offense they ran last season under Mike Brown, but Kobe took a lot of bad shots. I don’t know whether that was Mike Brown’s offense or not, but I’m guessing that it wasn’t since Gasol and Bynum usually had the advantage in the paint. At least Joe Johnson was carrying out the plan of his coach on a team without a real post scorer. That’s worse on Kobe who took shots that disrupted the offense. At times, he completely forgot about Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum also being on the floor. Joe Johnson had Josh Smith and Al Horford. Two good players, but not as good as Gasol and Bynum together. The triangle offense doesn’t require a setup PG. That’s why I haven’t said the same about Kobe.

  • roscoe

    more information re: ATL or an analysis of the triangle not needing a pg to have success does not make a sound defensive argument to the point that having “a setup type of PG” would benefit either joej or kb24. imo, “a set up type PG” which u brought up will benefit both joej & kb24 & whats g8t is that they both have one this year which should be fun 4 everyone to see bc they are both highly talented guards.

  • elmaar

    I wouldn’t say it’s a lack of baskeball IQ, both of these guys have a good enough baskeball IQ IMO. In Joe’s case during those atl years it mainly was bad coaching and a lack of supporting cast, it wasn’t as if he was disrupting plays or something like that. Although in Kobster’s case it was and I believe still is and always will be all about ego. Trust me…if they get to the finals, Kobe will try and do everything to be the MVP, even if it might cost them the Finals.

  • shockexchange

    I disagree on Joe. The Hawks had talent, but they were just a bunch of underachievers who wanted large contracts but not the responsibility that goes with them. Secondly, Joe was in a good situation in Phoenix but left. It’s time people start holding players accountable for their underperformance and stop enabling them. Johnson is overrated, but his sneaker collection … now that is “best in class.”

  • elmaar

    johnson is a bit overrated, he’s def not worth the contract he’s received, but he can be and I think will be better in the right situation. I think it was all about him not possessing the necessary leadership qualities, passion and the willingness to win that would you need from a number one option for the team to succeed that made him look like a low IQ player. That being said I think although his numbers will remain the same or even dip a bit in BK but he will be much more efficient and will seem as a much higher IQ of a player with DWill running the show.

  • shockexchange

    So if Joe has the right players around him he can be good? You just described half the league, including Andray Blatche, Javale McGee, Horry Jr, etc.

  • elmaar

    Using your terminology for basketball IQ I just concluded to the fact that Joe J is clearly not a first option player and being put in such a position punctuates his flaws. At the same time I tried to stress he is not a low basketball IQ player, although lacks in other important aspects.

  • danpowers

    the basketball iq of a thirdgrader wont deliver a 18-22ppg 4-5apg and 4-5rpg output with some nice defense year in year out in the nba

  • shockexchange

    Fair point. But how many shots did he take to get his 18-22 ppg?

  • danpowers

    chapeau, fair point. too many.

  • shockexchange

    It shall all be revealed. But for the record, the Shock Exchange is absolutely pissed with Joe Johnson. After Johnson’s stellar performance in Phoenix, the Shock Exchange was amped up to see what Johnson was going to deliver going forward. His tenure in ATL was beneath a professional. How dare he let the Shock Exchange down like that? My dander is rising as I think about it …

  • danpowers

    did you ever check on his advanced stats? he had 4 above average shooting seasons and three average / slightly below average shooting seasons. compared to iversons mvp year he shot the ball like larry bird in his prime.

    when judging a player people should not look at their expectations. instead it makes more sense to just look at a players actual output and the reasons behind it. the hawks wouldnt have given him this max deal, not even in their situation, if he would have a low basketball IQ.

    mentioning phoenix: it could be quite probable that he will have a season similar to his last season with the suns. considering his max deal to that is just another proof that capitalism doesnt really work and that the lockout was nothing but a bad joke.

  • shockexchange

    Actually, I did check his stats. The only year I could find on ESPN was last season where he shot about 44% during the regular season and about 37% during the post-season. It’s hard to compare him to A.I. because Iverson was pretty much all Philly had. Not to belabor the point but Johnson had a lot of people ridin’ for him after he balled out in Phoenix. It’s going to take a few years for him to win back that goodwill, if at all.

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