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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Johnson is coming off his 16th NBA season and first with the Jazz. He largely played a bench role, starting in just 14 of the 78 games he appeared in. The 2016-17 campaign also marked the first time that Johnson has averaged single digit points since 2002-03. He finished last year averaging 9.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists across 23.6 minutes while knocking down 43.6 percent of his field-goal attempts and drilling 1.4 threes per game at a 41.1 percent clip. He’s lost much of his quickness with age, limiting him primarily to a spot-up three-point shooting role for the team, though he showed flashes of his former “Iso Joe” self last season, especially in the playoffs. With Gordon Hayward leaving the Jazz for greener pastures, Johnson could see a slight increase in usage, though it seems doubtful that he’ll see a significant bump in minutes or overall production considering his age and the roster makeup. The Jazz have no shortage of young wings, such as Rodney Hood, Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell, looking to prove themselves – all of whom will compete with 36-year-old Johnson for touches. With all that in mind, it’s likely safe to pass on Johnson in the majority of Fantasy formats.
Johnson is entering the final season of his contract with the Nets, originally joining the team four years ago in a trade from the Hawks. If there's one great thing about Johnson's value in fantasy it's that he's been healthy for most of his career. In his three seasons with the Nets, Johnson has played 72-plus games every season and was able to lace up his basketball shoes for 80 games last season, averaging 14.4 points, 1.5 three-pointers, 4.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.2 blocks in 35 minutes per game. It's amazing to think that, in the age of long rotations, a 34-year-old vet could be getting so many minutes, but with an old-school coach like Lionel Hollins, the old is always new, and with Deron Williams bought out of his contract with the Nets this summer, Hollins might ask Johnson to carry an even heavier load this season. Johnson will see most of his minutes at small forward, but the Nets' lack of competent point guards (Jarrett Jack, Shane Larkin, Donald Sloan, Ryan Boatright) could lead to Johnson having the ball in his hands more than any other Nets player this season. It's not often that an elderly player sees an improvement in his production from season to season, but unless the team brings in more talent, Johnson should enjoy more touches and increase his value in fantasy slightly.
In his 13th NBA season, Johnson was his usual reliable self, averaging 15.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 79 contests. He earned his seventh All-Star bid in eight seasons and led the Nets to the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. While Johnson's production has steadily declined with age, he's still a very capable scorer who shoots a high percentage, given his style of play. Johnson may not generate many assists, but a shooting percentage better than 45 percent for a guy nicknamed "Iso Joe" isn't too shabby. Part of the reason for the increased efficiency was Johnson's improvement as a three-point shooter. He converted 40 percent of his attempts – the second-highest percentage of his career – making more than two threes per game. Heading into his age-33 season, Johnson will again be the focal point of the Nets' offense. While he may not provide much outside of consistent scoring and decent rebounding numbers, Johnson is one of the better overall options at the league's weakest position. Plus, he's been able to stay relatively healthy, even at his advanced age. Though he has not participated in all 82 games since 2007-08, Johnson has played at least 70 games in 11 of his 13 NBA seasons.
It was evident in his performance last year that the ex-All-Star guard Johnson is on the decline of his career. He posted averages of 16.3 points (43 percent from the field), 3.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 0.7 steals, his lowest numbers across the board over the last nine years. Johnson had multiple opportunities to shine, being paired up with backcourt mate Deron Williams, and being the long-range assassin in the shallow Nets rotation. With new additions of Jason Terry, Paul Pierce and Andrei Kirilenko, another decline in numbers for Johnson is more than likely. With the Nets containing a deep roster with several talented guards, Johnson will get fewer touches and could become less effective from a fantasy standpoint. He will still remain a strong source of points and three-pointers made. However, the veteran will head into his 13th season at 32 years of age, and it would take a miracle to see him rejuvenated enough to score in the 20's on a consistent basis like he once did. Consider him a mid- to late-round specialist in most leagues.
After striking out in their efforts to trade for Dwight Howard, the Nets acquired Johnson to co-star with the newly re-signed Deron Williams as the team relocates to Brooklyn. After turning in five consecutive seasons averaging over 20 points per game, and being handsomely rewarded with a max contract, Johnson regressed some the last two seasons, scoring 18.8 points in 2011-12 and seeing his assists fall to 3.9 per game. He’s unlikely to improve his assist total playing as an off-guard with Williams, but Johnson could see his scoring climb with more clean looks from three-point range. Johnson has always been a good complimentary scorer. He shot 38.8 percent from three last season; his highest percentage since posting a 47.8 percent mark in 2004-05 when he was playing alongside Steve Nash in Phoenix. If Johnson does experience a bump in scoring, expect it to be modest, as Williams and Brook Lopez will receive a large volume of shots as well. Playing with Williams should nonetheless allow Johnson to become a more efficient scorer, so his field goal percentage stands to improve with Williams commanding the attention of opposing defenses.
The Hawks were Johnson’s team up until last season, but new head coach Larry Drew steadily made it more and more Al Horford’s team in 2010-11. Jeff Teague’s growth near the end of last season also contributed to Johnson’s role thinning out. As a result, Johnson played fewer minutes and saw several of his stats take a dip, including his scoring average which dipped below the 20-point threshold for the first time in his six-year career with the Hawks. The trend of spreading the ball around will likely continue into next season as well, potentially shrinking Johnson’s role in fantasy further. In fact, through 26 games after the All-Star break last season, Johnson averaged just 15.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 0.9 three-pointers, 0.7 steals and 2.1 turnovers. With Johnson entering just the second year of a monstrously large contract, the Hawks aren’t going to turn away from him completely, but his best fantasy days are likely behind him.
When Johnson was originally signed to a $70 million contract by the Atlanta Hawks before the 2005-06 season, the move was a bit of a head-scratcher. The wing had posted only two good seasons, and both of those came in a Suns' offense that, owing to its pace and the quality of its main point guard (Steve Nash), has made some mediocre talents look deceptively impressive. In any case, the move has worked out for the Hawks. Just a 13-win team the year before Johnson's arrival, they've improved their win totals every season since, culminating in last year's 53-win playoff team. How much of that is Johnson's doing is a discussion for another place, but in terms of the fantasy-relevant categories, Johnson's the man, leading the team in points (21.3 per game) and assists (4.9), placing second in three-pointers made (1.7) and steals (1.1), and even finishing fourth on the squad in rebounds (4.6). As a result, the Hawks used the offseason to sign him to a six-year, $120 million contract that will take him through his age-34 season. That might not be great value for the Hawks, but it all but guarantees that, barring injuries (which haven't really been a problem for him), Johnson should maintain his status not only as the leading producer on his own team, but as a top-five shooting guard for fantasy purposes. Note that, owing to his ball-keeping skills (only 1.9 turnovers per game last season), Johnson gets a small boost upwards in 9-cat leagues.
Johnson was like clockwork last season, nearly replicating his averages from 2007-08 across all nine categories. He has excelled in his role as the star on a perpetually playoff-bound team, and the presence of teammate Mike Bibby has allowed him to score at a high rate while keeping his turnovers at a respectable 2.5 per game. Johnson�s field-goal percentage is a slight drawback at 43.7 percent on 18.0 attempts per game, but is certainly manageable with a negative impact on the same level as that of Chauncey Billups and Vince Carter. The addition of Jamal Crawford may result in fewer shot attempts for Johnson when the two are on the floor together, but will be offset by increased efficiency with Crawford drawing more defensive attention than Bibby would. The icing on top of the cake is Johnson's near-pristine bill of health � he has played at least 79 games in six of the past seven seasons. The bottom line is that there simply aren�t many players that offer the combination of consistency and durability that Johnson brings, making him that much more valuable to fantasy owners.
Johnson had arguably the best season of his career in 2008-08 despite difficulties with his shooting stroke (four-year low 43.2% FG), as he produced near personal bests in scoring (21.7 ppg), assists (5.8 apg), rebounds (4.5 rpg) and 3-pointers (2.1 3pg). Johnson is a 6-8 wing with the ball-handling ability to play some point guard and the size to defend forwards. That makes him too big for most wings and too skilled on the perimeter for most forwards. Johnson showed in the playoffs he has the game and mentality to take over games on offense, and when his jumper is falling he can’t be defended 1-on-1. Johnson also regained his iron-man status last season, playing all 82 games for the fifth time in six years. Johnson is the unquestioned leader on a Hawks team that actually has a surprising amount of young talent, and he looks poised to improve at age 27 as he approaches his physical prime.
Johnson just keeps getting better. He blew his career-high scoring average out of the water last season, increasing that number by nearly five points to an even 25.0 per game while setting a new best in field-goal percentage (47.1) and maintaining his strong all around game (4+ boards/4+ assists/2+ treys/1+ steal per). The only negative number in Johnson’s 2006-07 season was 25 – as in, games missed due to a nagging calf injury. But that injury should be completely healed when this year’s campaign starts, and the additions of power forward Al Horford and point guard Acie Law should free Johnson to make even bigger contributions.
Johnson came into last season with a lot of question marks, and his answers have him poised just outside of the fantasy elite entering this year. After leaving a cushy situation in Phoenix and taking over The Man role for the Hawks, Johnson showed that he has the ability to be a good all-around producer in a leading role by setting career highs in scoring (20.2 ppg), assists (6.5 apg), steals (1.3 spg), and free throw percentage. Johnson surprised many by maintaining a good field goal percentage (45.3%) even as the offensive focal point without being set-up by Steve Nash, though his three-pointers made (1.6) and percentage (35.6%) did decrease after leaving the Suns. With free-agent signee Speedy Claxton expected to man the PG position, Johnson may see a slight falloff in assists this season, but being able to play more off the ball should improve his scoring chances and decrease his turnovers (3.3 per game). Johnson is also an iron man, having played in every game for the past four seasons.
Like Larry Hughes, Johnson had a career year in ’04-’05 and is changing teams this offseason. Unlike Hughes, who is going to play Pippen to LeBron’s Jordan, Johnson is going from a situation in Phoenix where he was surrounded by talent to a Hawks team that expects him to be the Man. How Johnson responds to this challenge will determine whether he continues on the path to being a fantasy stud or reverts to the also-ran status that marked much of his early career. Blessed with an excellent combination of size (6-7, 230) and perimeter skills (2.2 3s/game at 48% shooting from downtown), Johnson can score from inside and out. He will likely play some point guard for the Hawks, so he is a solid bet to improve on his 3.8 assists/game from last season. His scoring is also likely to go up as he will go from being the fourth option on offense with the Suns to the first option with the Hawks. The downside to that is that he will also be the focal point of the defense and will no longer be fed by Steve Nash assists, which means that his field goal percentage is likely to drop from his career high 46.1% of last season to closer to his 43% career marks. He will also see fewer open 3s, which could hurt his 3-point numbers. Finally, his turnovers are likely to increase dramatically. In summary, Johnson appears poised to go from being one of the best 3rd/4th options in the league to a flawed 1st/2nd option in both fantasy and real NBA terms.
Johnson came on strong at the end of last season, contributing in threes, points, rebounds, assists and steals, and figured to be a great sleeper pick for this year’s draft until the Suns signed Quentin Richardson to a multi-year contract. With Richardson likely to start at shooting guard, Johnson will be relegated to sixth man duties and could lose a few minutes per game. That said, we don't see Jake Voskuhl getting a ton of minutes at the five, and Phoenix could slot Amare Stoudemire over with Shawn Marion moving to the four and both Johnson and Richardson seeing extensive time on the floor together at the two and three. Still, the Suns have a ton of weapons now, and so Johnson's role will likely be a little less prominent than it was last year.
Johnson is an unselfish player who distributes the ball and makes great decisions. He spent most of the last season battling injury-prone Penny Hardaway for the starting shooting guard slot and could eventually take the job this year if he outproduces Hardaway early in the season.
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