Kevin Durant and James Harden came up big for the Brooklyn Nets during the second half of Tuesday’s win over Dallas, but the Nets wouldn’t have won the game without James Johnson. Maybe it was because he played in 29 games with the Mavericks during the 2020-21 season, but he scored 12 points (5-of-7) and added four rebounds and four assists for Brooklyn in 25 minutes.
Johnson’s recent prediction has been beneficial for the Nets for a multitude of reasons, but mainly because the team lacks depth at forward/center. Blake Griffin was booted out of the rotation by Steve Nash and hasn’t played in a game since Nov. 22, so both Johnson’s and Paul Millsap’s minutes have increased.
In the eight games that Brooklyn has played in since Nov. 17, Johnson’s averaging over 24 minutes. He only missed the 20-minute mark once, and that was in the 112-110 win over the Knicks on Nov. 30, during which he played in 18 minutes of the game.
Up until the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s matchup, it was Johnson who was helping to keep the Nets afloat with his production on both ends of the floor.
James Johnson is proving to be a key addition for the Brooklyn Nets.
After Griffin’s performance in the playoffs last year led to Brooklyn re-signing him during the offseason, there was no way fans expected him to be benched fewer than 20 games in. Not to mention the fact he’s been replaced by Johnson, who’s played for nine teams since he was drafted in 2009.
We don’t think the Nets need to give up on Griffin yet, but Johnson’s been remarkably valuable in the meantime. The 34-year-old has averaged 8.6 points and 5.6 rebounds over the last eight games. Not to mention, he’s shot 57.6% from the floor.
On Tuesday night, Johnson made two of his three attempts from the 3-point line, which were the most shots that he’s made from downtown all season.
When Brooklyn was down by six points with a little over seven minutes left to play in the first half, Johnson crossed over guard Jalen Brunson and powered his way down low for two points. A few minutes after that, Jevon Carter turned the ball over and Johnson sprinted to the other end to block Maxi Kleber‘s shot on Dallas’ fast break. Oh, and Johnson was outmatched 3-1 on that sequence.
Looking ahead, Johnson could very well play a big role in the Nets’ playoff run. It’s a good thing Brooklyn signed him during the offseason. His play has been quite a pleasant surprise, and it could end up solving their early depth issues that have been a loud talking point.