ORLANDO, Fla. -- His numbers are down through a small sample size, the production lower than what he's used to.
However, Joe Johnson insists that it will all start clicking relatively soon. It probably can't get here fast enough for some Nets fans who've seen one of the team's prized offseason acquisitions struggle early on. After a preseason in which he appeared to transition nicely into his new role on a new team, Johnson has looked little like the six-time All-Star that's averaged at least 18.2 points per game the past seven seasons.
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"I've been OK," Johnson said Thursday after practice at Amway Center with the Nets taking on the Magic (2-2) Friday night. "It's going to come for me. It just takes time. I just need to get acclimated with everybody, and I think things will come. Right now it's early. We've only played three games."
Through the first three games, he is averaging 14 points and is shooting 37.7 percent. He's been to the foul line just four times. For a career 44.4-percent shooter, the early drop-off is easily noticeable.
Johnson, though, contends he's still finding the sweet spots of backcourt mate Deron Williams and others, assuring he'll reach a comfort zone. He's adjusting to not being the go-to guy he was with the Hawks, though he said that isn't truly an issue. "It's not really a big difference," he said. " . . . It wasn't necessarily that I was the first option. We had guys who played multiple positions, kind of the same here. It's just going out there and being a team player. That's what I'm about. It's going to come."
Nets coach Avery Johnson believes his shooting guard is being aggressive, but "I think right now it's just a matter of reading the defense better . . . when he drives, there's kind of five in the paint and there's going to continue to be five in the paint until we make our outside shots. Once we make our outside shots, we'll loosen up the defense a little bit more and he'll find a few more driving lanes."
Perhaps that will start Friday night, in a game Joe Johnson said the Nets need to come out and play with confidence from the opening tip.
"Out here on the basketball court, you have to have a certain swagger about yourself when you're playing against the Miamis, the Bostons, the Lakers," he said. "You can't come out hoping and wishing. You have to come out knowing you can beat those teams. That's the type of attitude you have to have and that's the type of approach you have to come with in every game."