Should the Atlanta Hawks retire Joe Johnson’s number?

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 8: Joe Johnson
ATLANTA, GA - MAY 8: Joe Johnson /
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Atlanta Hawks
ATLANTA, GA – MAY 1: Joe Johnson /

Paul Pierce, for the better part of a decade, was the leader of a vast collection of terrible Boston Celtics seasons. It’s a certainty the Celtics nation would dispute my thoughts on their troubles, but Pierce was the fearless leader during all of their 5 losing seasons from his rookie year of 99- 07. He did actually reach the playoffs on a number of occasions, even going as far as the Eastern Conference finals in 2002, but the efforts made were largely  forgettable.

It wasn’t until Danny Ainge orchestrated trades to bring in talents arguably of superior greatness, that Pierce enjoyed the type of success which would earn him hall of fame consideration. With the arrival of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the Celtics ascended to a 66-16 record and won an NBA title. The point I’m ultimately trying to make is, it’s not hard to pad your stats and make all-star teams when your best teammates are the likes of Walter McCarty and Kenny Anderson.

Despite of what I’ve established, the statistical comparison between the two is still intriguing. Without completely flooding this article with numbers, I’ll summarize my findings the best I can. Over the course of 18 NBA seasons, the Truth posted 19.7 points, 3.5 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game. Since 2002, to his current run, Joe has averaged 16.4 points, 4.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game.

It could be considered as obvious, Joe competes with a better sense of style and finness. He can get about anywhere he wants on the court, but he shys away from the majority of all contact. His ability in clutch moments can’t be denied and Joe gets busy with his ball handling, floaters fadeaways. Some of Johnson’s tendencies in Atlanta could be described as frustrating though, I can remember many instances shouting at a screen because he would not slam dunk the basketball.

ATLANTA, GA – MAY 08: Forward Paul Pierce
ATLANTA, GA – MAY 08: Forward Paul Pierce /

The biggest difference between Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson offensively, is undoubtedly Pierce’s ability to get himself to the foul line. It’s true Joe could boast and brag more so on his passing skills and playmaking ability, but Paul always was shown a hefty amount of respect from all of the officials. He attempted an average of 6.4 free throws per game for his 18 year career, as opposed to Johnson’s humble 2.8 trips to the stripe.

A referee would always sound his whistle more frequently to the player he knows will step up and capitalize on the opportunities. The foul game to me always held great value for a successful individual game. On a particular night when the outside shot isn’t falling, putting pressure on the officials and finding ones stroke at the charity stripe could always turn a slump into a solid outing from long range.

Pierce connected on an efficient 80.6 percent of his free throw attempts. Johnson also has a gorgeous touch at the line, hitting 80.1 of his attempts. The problem is, he never got there nearly enough. The disparity between the two’s career scoring average, can be totally attributed to the ability to get to the line.