A Thin Line: Joe Johnson & Kevin Durant

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A Thin Line: Joe Johnson & Kevin Durant

The first thing you hear when rookie Kevin Durant’s name is mentioned is his 19.4 points per game on 40% shooting.  Now, as anybody knows who follows the game, that that is not a compliment.  That's a team killer when you consider the 17 shot attempts taken per game.

One could see my astonishment when I saw the Atlanta Hawks guard, Joe Johnson (also shooting 40%), in an Eastern Conference All-Star jersey this year in New Orleans. What makes Johnson (in his eighth year) not only avoid criticism for his poor shooting, but get rewarded for it by making the Eastern All-Star team?

You could make a case for Johnson if the Hawks had an outstanding record, but at 21-28, it isn’t even good enough to grab an eighth seed.  I looked a bit closer to see the rest of Johnson and Durant’s stats and wasn’t at all surprised at the results. 

Johnson averages 4.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists.  Add in his 2.7 turnovers a game and you have a fairly mediocre stat line.  The only thing really going for Johnson is his 85.5% free throw percentage.

Kevin Durant, an 86.5% free throw shooter, at least gives the impression he’s playing defense by averaging one steal and one block a game.  Johnson doesn’t average either.

What gets me most is that Joe Johnson might not be the best player on his team.  Josh Smith is having an outstanding season, despite his poor outside shooting.  At least Smith is able to rebound, defend, and even more recently distribute the ball.  Meanwhile, Kevin Durant is probably praying at night to get at least somebody on his team as well-rounded and complimentary as Josh Smith in the near future. 

Durant is being asked to be a leader and put the Sonics on his shoulders, all at the young age of 19.  To his dismay he is only surrounded by incompetence and inexperience, add in a city that doesn’t want them, P.J. Carlesimo, and you have a recipe for lottery picks for years to come.

So as every analyst and anchor continues to call Kevin Durant a disappointment, just remember, Joe Johnson is an All-Star.

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