The Nets’ signing of Armon Johnson out of the D-League is interesting because Johnson plays point guard.
Since backup PG Jordan Farmar went down with a season ending groin injury, the Nets have experimented with many different players at the point guard position: Sundiata Gaines, MarShon Brooks, Gerald Wallace, and DeShawn Stevenson. With the Nets way out of playoff contention and perhaps hoping to lose enough games to get a high draft pick, the are sure to give Armon Johnson a shot playing the point.
The Nets’ experiments at point guard have mostly failed because Gaines, Brooks, Wallace, and Stevenson are not capable of consistently making smart, quick decisions when initiating an offensive possesion. Gaines tends to dribble for too long before looking to make a pass. He also misses too many shots. Brooks has shown many flashes but commits too many boneheaded turnovers. Wallace is simply not a point guard because he looks to contribute by shooting and rebounding, not distributing the ball to others. DeShawn is over the hill.
Of the above players, Gaines is the only established point guard. Brooks is a shooting guard, Wallace is a forward, and DeShawn is just DeShawn. Therefore, Gaines should be very concerned by the Johnson signing. Sundiata has played poorly recently and has consequently played fewer minutes. His contract expires at the end of the season, so Gaines has chosen a bad time to play poorly. If Johnson plays halfway decently in the coming games, Sundiata may be benched entirely and find himself out of the NBA by next season. He is running out of time to prove that he belongs in the NBA.
It should be noted that Gaines has had some very nice moments with the Nets this season. Against the NY Knicks, for example, Gaines led the Nets throughout much of fourth quarter crunch time after Deron Williams got fouled out of the game. The Nets had a slim lead when Sundiata took over for Williams at point guard and everyone thought the Nets had no chance. However, the Nets managed to maintain that lead and win the game behind Sundiata’s leadership. This was arguably the Nets’ best win of the season.
In the coming games, I will be interested to see if Armon Johnson can distribute the ball smartly. I am not very interested to see if he can score, because the Nets most desperately need another point guard to pass the ball, not shoot it. He is 6-3, 195 pounds, so he is tall enough (as tall as Deron Williams), but has a little less weight. I hope he can see the floor well, but my expectations are low considering that he is a young D-Leaguer who didn’t cut it with the Portland Trail Blazers last season.