The Brooklyn Nets haven’t wasted any time since the NBA’s free agency period opened; they have already re-signed Deron Williams and have a trade in place to acquire guard Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for several players. (Maybe the Nets will now have a roster spot for Adam Morrison.)
On his radio show on Tuesday, Colin Cowherd shared a hard-to-believe statistic about Johnson: over the last seven NBA seasons, only five NBA players have scored more points than Johnson: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade.
That fact is strange enough by itself, but consider this: Johnson amassed his 10,606 points over those seven seasons while finishing in the league’s top ten in scoring only once (his 25.02 points per game in 2006-2007 was good for ninth in the NBA).
By contrast, James, who won the NBA scoring title in 2007-2008 (30.00 points per game), hasn’t finished lower than fourth in the league in scoring during the last seven seasons. (Since 1970, the NBA has determined its scoring leader by scoring average, rather than total points scored in a season.)
Another weird fact: James has finished second in total points in each of the last eight seasons. Karl Malone also accomplished that feat eight times, but split it up into five-season (1988-1989 through 1992-1993) and three-season (1995-1996 through 1997-1998) streaks.
What to make of Cowherd’s Joe Johnson statistic? At first blush, it’s reminiscent of the scene in Mr. Baseball where Tom Selleck indignantly reminds the manager that he led the club in ninth-inning doubles in the month of August. (Find it here at the 3:07 mark.)
It’s a far cry from Selleck, but there is some sophistry in Johnson’s seven-year statistic: since 2005-2006, Johnson has scored more than 1,500 points fewer than fifth-place Wade and nearly 5,000 fewer than Bryant, who is first. If you cut the time frame to the previous five seasons, there are at least nine players in front of Johnson: the five mentioned above plus Kevin Durant, Amar’e Stoudemire, Dwight Howard, and Danny Granger.
On the other hand, you have to wake up pretty early in the morning to score more than 10,000 points in an NBA career, let alone in seven seasons. After beginning his career with the Celtics and rising to prominence in Phoenix, Johnson played seven seasons for the Hawks. According to the Hawks’ media guide, Johnson leaves Atlanta in sixth place on the franchise’s career scoring list. In Atlanta, Johnson missed only 50 regular season games and played all 82 games twice. As a Hawk, he never averaged fewer than 18.2 points per game in a season. Consistency is an under-appreciated quality.
Johnson will never be confused with the dominating forces like Kobe and LeBron (nor should he be), but Hawks fans should be sorry to see him go, and fans in Brooklyn should be excited to see what he can do when paired with an elite point guard like Williams.
Hater Updater: Click here to read Hawks fan and Grantland contributor Rembert Browne’s farewell letter to Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams. Let’s just say he takes a different view of things.