There is a growing sense of frustration for Brooklyn Nets forward Cameron Johnson.
It is not with his team but rather with the way things are going on the heels of a 108-102 loss to the Denver Nuggets, their third straight loss and fourth in the last six contests.
“The frustrating thing is just when [shots] don’t go in,” Johnson said via the YES Network’s YouTube channel. “They felt good. I’m sure everybody who shot them thought they felt good today. They’re just not going in right now.”
Brooklyn shot 46% from the floor and 34% from beyond the arc, their seventh time failing to surpass 35% as a team since the trade deadline with their new-look starting lineup – a span of 16 games. They’ve had similar stretches that have lasted longer but Johnson was singling out his performance.
Johnson went 1-for-6 from deep and has hit just 31% of his threes over the last eight games.
“I can only speak for myself personally,” Johnson said. “It’s life as a basketball player. If it was easy, everybody would be shooting threes and making them. So, you got to weather the storms and continue to shoot. But it’s tough because I thought we had a lot of good looks tonight – a lot of good looks that just went in and out. And sometimes games go like that. But we can’t let them affect us on the defensive end and continue to shoot them when we get those opportunities.”
The 27-year-old Johnson is high on this group but has been outspoken on the challenges of trying to jell with a new group and so little time before the playoffs begin.
Nets Having Issues on Both Ends
Johnson has previously been outspoken about the transition from one set of defensive principles to another.
“Defense in the NBA is a lot of ways to do it, and it’s all kind of on principles – principles, principles, principles,” Johnson said via the Nets’ YouTube channel after their loss to the Atlanta Hawks on February 26. “And, not to make any excuses, right? But for four years…I’ve had my coaching staff who was very adamant on certain principles. And it was on us to execute them at a high level. And after day after day after day of working on them, they get a little ingrained in your head, right? So, some of the principles we have here in Brooklyn are almost complete opposite.”
Brooklyn has a minus-4.8 net rating since they first deployed their current starting five against the Philadelphia 76ers on February 11, per NBA.com. That is partly because their defensive rating has risen, though it has only worsened by 1.9 points per 100 possessions.
However, it is their offensive rating that has fallen by 4.8 points per 100 possessions – an understandable result of losing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving for good – that has sunk them.
The Nets rank 27th in points per game since that loss to Philly.
Cameron Johnson Could Use a Turnaround
Johnson has not necessarily struggled since the deadline. He is averaging 16.7 points on 58.2% true shooting with 4.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.3 steals. Still, he is known in large part for his ability to stretch the floor and his 34.7% mark with the Nets would be a career-low across a full season.
That is especially pertinent as he prepares to hit restricted free agency this coming offseason with eyes on a substantial pay raise.
The former 11th-overall pick in 2020 has already rejected a four-year, $72 million offer.
Brooklyn might not be in a position to be selective when it comes to paying the 6-foot-8, switchable wing. In addition to his solid play on both ends of the floor – he is the only member of the new starting five to sport a positive net rating since debuting – Johnson is also close to new potential building block Mikal Bridges.