Joe Johnson traded to Nets: How does the new Big 3 stack up?
The Nets finally have their star team, maybe a superstar team. Does it stack up with the other teams across the league?
|Joe Johnson will join fellow All-Star Deron Williams in Brooklyn. (Getty Images)|
It took several attempts, but the Nets finally have a pair of All-Stars. The Nets agreed to a framework with the Atlanta Hawks on Monday to acquire All-Star Joe Johnson. (Read: Royce Young grades the trade.)
Oh, sorry, what's that? Yes, Joe Johnson is an All-Star. Six-times in fact. That's right. Joe Johnson has been an All-Star twice as many times as Deron Williams. This is the world we live in.
But how good can they be, with Deron Williams re-signed and teamed with Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace, who the Nets came to an agreement with over the weekend for 4-years, $40 million?
What's the ceiling for the New Nets?
Johnson is a very good player. He's long, versatile, can score on his own, off the cut and on the catch-and-shoot. He shot 45 percent from the field this season, which isn't amazing, but isn't bad, especially given his usage. He tends to lean more toward isolation plays, but that was with the Hawks, where he was the biggest name on the marquee.
With Deron Williams? He's a wholly different player. Johnson, hopefully, will embrace being the tip of the sword in the Nets' offense, working off-ball. Williams' negotiation of the pick-and-roll will command enough attention to get Johnson space, and from there, it's knocking down jumpshots. And that's what he's good at.
Johnson's also good in the high post. That can free Williams on the perimeter, and Williams is maybe the best scorer of the elite point guards. And this is before you get to Wallace.
Johnson and Williams are excellent players in the pick-and-roll as the ball-handler. Wallace sets excellent screens and can negotiate the roll or the pop for the jumper. If Johnson and Williams are operating on one wing, Wallace can clear out and cut or crash the glass on the weak side. He gives you the rebounds and finish in transition, and the versatile defender you need.
Throw in that the Nets are likely to re-sign Brook Lopez, which helps them not at all in rebounding or defense, but does in low-post scoring, and you have a very solid team.
Very good, even.
But is it great? Will it be worth the money they'll owe next season, let alone in three years when Johnson will earn close to $25 million?
The Nets will be respectable, will sell some tickets and could be pretty-good-to-great at times. But it's hard to argue that their No. 2 player (Johnson) is better than the Heat's No. 3. And if you consider the Nets' No. 1 option against the Heat's No. 3 (Chris Bosh), it even gets a little tight.
In reality, when looking at Big 3s in the NBA, we look at a list something like this before the Nets trade.
Miami: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden
Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol
Boston Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce
San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker
New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire
Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Billy Crystal
You can put those in whatever order you'd like and rank them (we encourage you to do so in the comments). But where does Brooklyn rank, now?
The answer is likely somewhere between the Spurs and Clippers. They're on par with the Knicks. That says a lot about both teams and should make for a fun rivalry despite neither being a legitimate title contender.
The Nets have put together a star team. Maybe a superstar team, depending on how you choose to define things. But they're still a step behind ...
Unless they talk the Magic into taking Brook Lopez in a sign-and-trade, Gerald Wallace in a sign-and-trade, Marshon Brooks, and picks for Dwight Howard. That's their best, last hope of cutting to the front of the line. For now, that's out, and as a result, so are the Nets from the bubble of championship contenders.
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