Brooklyn Nets starting 2-guard Joe Johnson has been branded with the "overrated" tag since the summer of 2010, when the Atlanta Hawks awarded the then 21 point per game scorer and solid defender with a six year, $120 million dollar contract.
What is interesting about that "overrated" tag is nobody else, from the media to other teams in the league, overrates Joe Johnson. He's never been seriously mentioned as an MVP candidate and has earned one All-NBA third team bid.
All the "overrating," or perhaps more appropriately, over compensating, was done by the Atlanta Hawks front office. They knew they couldn't bag LeBron James in 2010, so they over-zealously pursued a quality player in Johnson to ensure that their organization remained respectable.
Before the Hawks traded him to the Nets in 2012, Johnson more or less continued to do his job. Yes, his scoring dropped by about 10 percent from 21 to 18.5 points a game the last two years. But so did his minutes and shot opportunities thanks to a stagnant Hawks offense and teammate Josh Smith's increased role in it.
Now Johnson is playing for a New York market team, and the question re-emerges as to whether he can "earn" his $20 million salary in 2012-13. Hardly likely, considering that LeBron James will be putting up his usual 28 points, 7 assists, and 8 rebounds a game for only $17 million next year.
However, Johnson can make some marked improvements in his game next season that will make him an invaluable player, notwithstanding that "overrated" tag due to NBA managements' financial wizardry and no fault of his own.