Oklahoma City Thunder: A James Harden/Joe Johnson comparison
The Thunder’s scintillating victory over the Brooklyn Netropolitans on Tuesday night reminded me of the Joe Johnson/James Harden comparison. Johnson scored 17 points on 8-of-21 shooting in the Thunder’s 117-111 victory in Brooklyn. When the Thunder made the Harden trade in October, some analogies were made to Johnson’s situation from seven years ago.
Johnson grew up in Little Rock, Ark., played at Arkansas and entered the 2001 NBA Draft. He was taken by Boston 10th overall, and was a 20-year-old rookie. In February 2001, Johnson was traded to Phoenix — along with Randy Brown, Milt Palacio and a first-round draft pick that became Casey Jacobsen, for Tony Delk and Rodney Rogers. Bad trade for Boston. But I digress.
James Harden grew up in Los Angeles, played at Arizona State and entered the 2009 NBA Draft. He was taken by the Thunder third overall and was a 20-year-old rookie in 2009-10.
So here are the comparisons:
Rookie Year: Johnson averaged 7.5 points, shot 43 percent from the field and played 24.9 minutes per game. The Suns went 36-46 in 2001-02. Harden averaged 9.9 points, shot 40.3 percent and played 22.9 minutes per game. The Thunder went 50-32 and lost in six games of the first round of the playoffs to the eventual NBA champion Lakers.
Year 2: Johnson averaged 9.8 points, shot 39.7 percent and played 27.5 minutes per game. The Suns went 44-38 and reached the playoffs, where they lost in six first-round games to the Spurs, who went on to the NBA title. Harden averaged 12.2 points per game, shot 43.6 percent and played 26.7 minutes per game. The Thunder went 55-27 and reached the West finals, where they lost in five games to the eventual NBA champ Mavericks.
Year 3: Johnson averaged 16.7 points a game, shot 43 percent and played 40.6 minutes per game. The Suns dipped to 29-53. Harden averaged 16.8 points a game, shot 49.1 percent and played 31.4 minutes per game. The Thunder went 47-19 and reached the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Heat in five games.
Year 4: Johnson averaged 17.1 points, shot 46.1 percent and played 39.5 minutes per game. The Suns made the Western Conference Finals and lost in five games to the Spurs, who went on to win the NBA title. Harden is now 17 games into his Houston Rocket career.
So, the first four Johnson seasons and the first three Harden seasons were similar. Eerily similar, some would say. They are similar players, though Harden is better.
The 2012 Thunder playoff team boasted of wondrous young talent — Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Harden, all 23 or 22 years old. The 2005 Suns playoff team boasted of wondrous young talent — 22-year-old Amare Stoudemire (26.0 points a game), 26-year-old Shawn Marion (19.4 points a game), Johnson, 24-year-old Quentin Richardson (14.9 points a game), all quarterbacked by an in-his-prime-and-glory Steve Nash.
VIDEOS FROM NBA TV
Buy Tickets View all
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
- 10457Oklahoma tornadoes: Cost, custom keep basements scarce
- 9286Oklahoma tornadoes: Plaza Towers Elementary School teacher shoved students into bathroom as wall collapsed
- 5848Downtown wish list includes Super Target
- 4983Oklahoma tornadoes: The 'Big Dog,' the little boy and the hug that triumphs over tragedy
- 4420Oklahoma City pastor will face trial in fatal shooting of son-in law
- 4301Oklahoma tornadoes: Price family recovering after some heavy blows
- 4216How to help tornado victims
- 4195Oklahoma tornadoes: Lack of storm shelters floors newcomers to Tornado Alley
- 4147Woman's body found in Payne County; two arrested
- 4123OU softball: Sooners inspired by Casey Angle, run-rule Texas A&M
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients