Ranking All 46 NBA/ABA Arkansan Three-Pointer Shooters

In few realms does the state of Arkansas travel the Middle Way. In politics, we’re among the reddest of the red. In education, we’re near the bottom of nearly all national metrics. Income stats, too.

It’s hardly a long shot to say Arkansans don’t do moderation well.

Except when it comes to producing world-classily average deep shooters. Arkansas ranks No. 25 among 50 states in three-point shooting in the NBA and the now-defunct ABA. That’s an accuracy only ranking, tallied by adding up all three-point makes and attempts by all NBA/ABA players born in each state. New Hampshire, South Dakota and Nebraska are tops here, with New Mexico, Delaware and Wyoming groveling at the bottom. Click here to nerd out more on this stuff, as I did for SLAM.

Looking at only native Arkansans, we see one reason for the state’s supreme averageness is the lack of any elite deadeye gunners. No Kyle Korvers, Hubert Davises, Dell Currys – or even Martell Websters or Anthony Morrows -have ever come out of our state. While Joe Johnson did briefly hold the NBA record for three point makes in one quarter (8), he hasn’t consistently been able to sustain the elite accuracy he showed early in his career with the Phoenix Suns.

Indeed, when it comes to accuracy, the best Arkansan long bomber isn’t even know for being an Arkansan. Mike Conley, Jr., son of Razorback track great Mike Conley, moved in childhood from Fayetteville to Indiana.

14 Best NBA/ABA Arkansan Three Point Gunners

3 PT% Made Attempted Native Town
Jasper Wilson* 0.429 6 14 Camden
Mike Conley 0.376 630 1677 Fayetteville
Derek Fisher 0.374 1248 3341 Little Rock
Joe Johnson 0.372 1671 4497 Little Rock
Fred Jones 0.353 346 979 Malvern
Jimmy Oliver 0.34 17 50 Menifee
Marcus Brown 0.333 13 39 West Memphis
Quincy Lewis 0.333 37 111 Little Rock
Jeff Webster 0.333 2 6 Pine Bluff
James Anderson 0.33 173 525 El Dorado
Scottie Pippen 0.326 978 3002 Hamburg
Fat Lever 0.31 162 523 Pine Bluff
Dennis Nutt 0.294 5 17 Little Rock
Sidney Moncrief 0.284 110 387 Little Rock

*I don’t consider Jasper Wilson the most accurate NBA Arkansan three-point shooter of all time. He just lucked out with a small sample size. A “not-small” sample size, in the context of this ranking, should probably begin around 200 career attempts. 

Notice the rankings only consider birthplace, not where the player actually went to high school. That’s why even the most hardcore NBA Arkansan fan will see unfamiliar names on these lists. And while I technically shouldn’t have included Ronnie Brewer on account of his spending his first four years in Oregon, where his dad played basketball, I couldn’t help myself. Too many Arkansans would want the exception to be made.

Ronnie has never been known as a great shooter, so it comes as no surprise he ranks No. 14 in the

Worst 21 NBA/ABA Arkansan Three Point Shooters

Jeff Martin 0.282 29 103 Cherry Valley
Ronnie Brewer 0.254 90 335 Portland, OR
Andrew Lang 0.25 5 20 Pine Bluff
Ron Brewer 0.248 30 121 Fort Smith
Sonny Weems 0.241 19 79 West Memphis
Jim McElroy 0.206 7 34 Cotton Plant
Cory Carr 0.167 5 30 Fordyce
Keith Lee 0.167 2 12 West Memphis
Archie Goodwin 0.159 7 44 Little Rock
Jeremy Evans 0.143 1 7 Crossett
Wil Jones 0.143 12 84 McGehee
Corliss Williamson 0.136 6 44 Russellville
Caldwell Jones 0.123 7 57 McGehee
Major Jones 0.111 1 9 McGhee
Bryant Reeves 0.074 2 27 Fort Smith
Jeff Taylor 0 0 1 Blytheville
Jerry Rook 0 0 2 Jonesboro
Gaylon Nickerson 0 0 2 Osecola
Charles Jones 0 0 6 McGehee
Joe Barry Carroll 0 0 13 Pine Bluff
Michael Cage 0 0 25 West Memphis

More of a surprise is the depth to which second-year pro Archie Goodwin’s shooting has submarined. Sure, Goodwin’s strength has always been driving to the basket. But he had made strides shooting from deep his senior year at Sylvan Hills and was better than this in his lone season at Kentucky. We’ll see how much he improves with more minutes, and more opportunities to get in a groove.

I should also be noted Sonny Weems has in recent years become a 37% three-point shooter in the world’s second-most competitive league. 

Of course, some of the best NBA Arkansans never had a chance to prove their not-so-middling mettle in this realm. Below are mostly native Arkies who either played before played before 1979, when the NBA adopted the three-pointer, or who played but not in the ABA – which used the three from its 1967 get-go.

Continue reading Ranking All 46 NBA/ABA Arkansan Three-Pointer Shooters

Why Joe Johnson is a More Versatile Threat than Carmelo Anthony


Anthony towers over Johnson as a celebrity, but not as an offensive talent.

Yesterday, Miami’s Shane Battier shed insight into the difference between the two best small forwards in New York City:

“There’s not a lot you can take away,” he said of Joe Johnson’s offensive ability.  “I’m not saying you can take away…but Carmelo Anthony, he’s so left-hand dominant. So if you make him put it in his right hand, he really struggles. Joe, you can’t really do that. You really just have to fight him, play him honest, make him work for catches. Don’t let him get any free catches, because once he gets a free catch, he’s got multiple options.”

Battier isn’t the only Heat player praising Johnson’s abilities as Johnson’s Nets get set to clash with the Heat tonight, according to Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report. Dwayne Wade first realized just how talented Johnson was in the 2006, when the two players joined a star-studded cast including Anthony, LeBron James and Dwight Howard in Japan for the FIBA World Championships.

From afar, I knew he was good,” Wade told Bleacher Report after Wednesday’s Heat practice. “But we were practicing, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t know he was this good.’ And we were all, like, ‘Joe, you know how good you are?’ He was like, ‘Whatever.'” That team didn’t win the gold medal, falling to Greece and settling for bronze. But Johnson won the respect of his peers, tying with Howard for fifth on the team in scoring.

That trip was likely also the start of a close power circle that almost made Johnson a teammate of Wade four years later. Johnson, James and Wade planned to discuss their free agency plans in spring of 2010. Fast forward yet another four years, and Wade and James, of course, have gone on to win two NBA titles together and establish one of the great mini-dynasties in NBA history. Johnson, meanwhile, has lost 13 of the 16 second round games he has played in and has yet to deliver a signature NBA playoff series win. Beating his old friends would certainly qualify.

“He’s talented, man,” Wade told Skolnick as Miami prepared for Game 2 of the Brooklyn-Miami series. “But his personality, he’s so quiet. And no one’s ever pushed him.”

Johnson must push himself if his Nets will have any shot whatsoever of dethroning the champs.


For more on Johnson, check out my Sporting Life Arkansas article comparing his playoff plights with Sidney Moncrief.

The greatest Razorback NBA player of the 20th century never made it to the Finals. Blame injuries and the best small forward of his era. By 1986, 28-year-old Sidney Moncrief had transformed his Milwaukee Bucks into perennial Eastern Conference contenders who won seven straight divisional titles. But they got over a hump in the 1986 playoffs only to run into a mountain.

In the second round, the Bucks won that franchise’s first seventh game of a playoff series, beating nemesis Philadelphia 113-112 at home. Moncrief, who had missed four games in the series due to plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation of the foot, gutted it out for 35 minutes in the pivotal contest. He “played as brave a playoff series as anyone since the Knicks’ Willis Reed hobbled onto Madison Square Garden floor against the Lakers in 1970,” Sports Illustrated’s Jack McCallum wrote.

Moncrief’s left heel and chronically sore knees weren’t the only ailments afflicting Milwaukee heading into the next round. Its other star, Terry Cummings, had a dislocated finger and scorer Ricky Pierce had sprained his ankle. But the Bucks’ most formidable obstacle came in the form of their next opponent’s 29-year-old, six-feet-nine small forward. Larry Bird had already won two consecutive MVP awards and led his team to two NBA titles. What resistance could Moncrief and the Bucks hope to put up as he steamrolled to another?


Fast forward to 2014, and now Joe Johnson –  this century’s greatest Razorback NBA’er – faces another 29-year-old, six-feet-nine force of nature.

More here.

Is Joe Johnson the worst All-Star selection in modern NBA history?

Joe Johnson now has more All-Star appearances than Adrian Dantley, Joe Dumars, Chris Mullin,  Reggie Miller and Chris Webber. Is this a travesty? In the well-researched blog below, David Brown makes the case that it is.

I do agree Joe has a strong case this season for being the least deserving All-Star in NBA history – from a statistical standpoint. But David fails to mention two factors that played into his selection this year. First, the Nets are one of the league’s best teams since January 1. They very well may end up storming into the Playoffs and contend in the East – just as was originally forecasted. A big reason for that turnaround will have been Joe’s stellar play over a dozen-game period in January when he hit two game winners. Overall, his season hasn’t been All-Star worthy, but the coaches are likely voting for him because of this first-team All-NBA stretch he had.

Another factor to consider: Joe’s intangibles. He’s a better leader and team unifier than many NBA fans give him credit for. Consider what his presence did for the careers of Josh Smith , Al Horford and even Marvin Williams towards the end of his time in Atlanta. He’s steady, and you can count on him from an emotional standpoint – in this way, he’s similar to Tim Duncan. That kind of consistency is huge in a locker room culture where high pressure and outsized egos are often combustible combinations. My feeling is that some coaches voted for Joe less for his streaky three-point shooting and more the respect they have developed for who he is as a consummate team player.

Yes, rewarding someone for team play is not the purpose of an All-Star selection. But you’ll never convince those silly coaches of that.

NBA Arkansans Ranked In Order of Highest Scoring Game

joe johnson 29-points-quarter
You go, Joe.

On Monday night, Joe Johnson had a quarter for the ages. In one twelve-minute span, the Brooklyn Net scored 29 points including eight three-pointers. That’s historic stuff – tying an NBA record for most threes in a quarter and four points away from the record for most points in a quarter.

But Johnson’s spectacular play in the third quarter didn’t extend to the rest of the game. In the first half, he scored eight points and declined an opportunity to play in the fourth. He ended up totaling 37 points – only the 11th highest scoring game of his career.

Johnson’s third-quarter explosion was noteworthy because he’s never been a supremely explosive scorer. Although he was a main scoring option in Atlanta for years, his career high is 42 points. Where does this career high rank all-time among NBA Arkansans?

Wonder no more. Below are all instances of an NBA Arkansan scoring 40 or more points, ranked in order of highest scoring games.

Carroll, a Pine Bluff native, holds the top spot.
Carroll, a Pine Bluff native, holds the top spot.

1. Joe Barry Carroll

Rk       Age       Date  Tm  Opp   GS MP FG FGA  FG% 2P 2PA  2P% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA   FT% PTS 
1     24-224 1983-03-05 GSW  UTA W       22  32 .688 22           0          8  13  .615 52     
2     22-211 1981-02-20 GSW  SDC L       17          17           0         12  17  .706 46     
3     28-192 1987-02-01 GSW  NJN W  1 55 15  37 .405 15  37 .405  0   0     13  18  .722 43 
4     24-196 1983-02-05 GSW  SAS W       14  26 .538 14           0         12  14  .857 40
Age = XX-YYY; XX=Years Old, YYY=Days Old

2. Scottie Pippen

Rk       Age       Date  Tm  Opp   GS MP FG FGA  FG% 2P 2PA   2P% 3P 3PA   3P% FT FTA   FT% PTS 
1     31-146 1997-02-18 CHI  DEN W  1 41 19  27 .704 17  22  .773  2   5  .400  7   7 1.000 47 
2     25-151 1991-02-23 CHI  CHH W  1 31 16  17 .941 16  17  .941  0   0       11  15  .733 43 
3     26-156 1992-02-28 CHI  MIL W  1 42 17  24 .708 17  23  .739  0   1  .000  7   7 1.000 41 
4     30-146 1996-02-18 CHI  IND W  1 44 14  26 .538 10  19  .526  4   7  .571  8  10  .800 40 
5     29-167 1995-03-11 CHI  LAL L  1 40 16  26 .615 12  19  .632  4   7  .571  4   5  .800 40
One of the few stats where he outdid the Sid in the pros.
One of the few stats where he outdid the Sid in the pros.

3. Ron Brewer

Rk       Age       Date  Tm  Opp   GS MP FG FGA  FG% 2P 2PA  2P% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA   FT% PTS 
1     26-055 1981-11-10 SAS  LAL W       19          19           0          6   7  .857  44     
2     26-052 1981-11-07 SAS  NYK W       16          16           0          8   8 1.000  40

4. Sidney Moncrief

Rk       Age       Date  Tm  Opp   GS MP FG FGA  FG% 2P 2PA  2P% 3P 3PA   3P% FT FTA   FT% PTS 
1     26-059 1983-11-19 MIL  DEN L       13  17 .765 13           0           17  19  .895 43     
2     25-156 1983-02-24 MIL  HOU W       14  24 .583 14           0           14  14 1.000 42

5. Joe Johnson

Rk       Age       Date  Tm  Opp   GS MP FG FGA  FG% 2P 2PA  2P% 3P 3PA   3P% FT FTA   FT% PTS 
1     24-251 2006-03-07 ATL  GSW W  1 48 14  27 .519 10  17 .588  4  10  .400 10  10 1.000 42 
2     27-181 2008-12-27 ATL  CHI W  1 44 16  31 .516 12  25 .480  4   6  .667  5   6  .833 41 
3     28-173 2009-12-19 ATL  CHI L  1 48 16  32 .500 11  25 .440  5   7  .714  3   4  .750 40 
4     24-263 2006-03-19 ATL  ORL W  1 48 17  24 .708 12  19 .632  5   5 1.000  1   2  .500 40 
5     24-240 2006-02-24 ATL  IND W  1 47 16  24 .667 11  19 .579  5   5 1.000  3   3 1.000 40 
6     24-213 2006-01-28 ATL  CHI L  1 46 16  25 .640 12  21 .571  4   4 1.000  4   4 1.000 40

6. Alvin Robertson

Rk       Age       Date  Tm  Opp   GS MP FG FGA  FG% 2P 2PA  2P% 3P 3PA   3P% FT FTA   FT% PTS 
1     23-152 1985-12-21 SAS  DEN W  1 43 14  19 .737 13  18 .722  1   1 1.000 12  14  .857 41 
2     25-272 1988-04-19 SAS  LAL L  1 44 17  28 .607 16  25 .640  1   3  .333  5   6  .833 40 

7. Todd Day
Rk       Age       Date  Tm  Opp   GS MP FG FGA  FG% 2P 2PA  2P% 3P 3PA   3P% FT FTA   FT% PTS 
1     25-349 1995-12-22 BOS  MIN W  0 38 11  18 .611  6  10 .600  5   8  .625 14  16  .875 41 

8. Corliss Williamson
Rk       Age       Date  Tm  Opp   GS MP FG FGA  FG% 2P 2PA  2P% 3P 3PA   3P% FT FTA   FT% PTS 
1     24-090 1998-03-04 SAC  DET W  1 40 16  23 .696 16  23 .696  0   0        8   9  .889 40 

9. Archie Clark
Rk       Age       Date  Tm  Opp   GS MP FG FGA FG% 2P 2PA 2P% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA   FT% PTS 
1     30-134 1971-11-26 BAL  ATL W       15                               10  11  .909 40

O.K. Hard as I might try, I just can't slam the door on folks who nearly scored 40 points
but fell a shade short. Here are members of the 39-Point Club:
Eddie Miles
Rk       Age       Date  Tm  Opp   GS MP FG FGA  FG% 2P 2PA 2P% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA   FT% PTS 
1     27-251 1968-03-12 DET  SEA W       18                                 3   3 1.000 39

Darrell Walker
Rk       Age       Date  Tm  Opp   GS MP FG FGA  FG% 2P 2PA  2P% 3P 3PA   3P% FT FTA   FT% PTS 
1     26-014 1987-03-23 DEN  UTA L  1 36 13  18 .722 13  18 .722  0   0       13  16  .813 39 
2     26-002 1987-03-11 DEN  UTA W  1 40 14  21 .667 14  21 .667  0   0       11  14  .786 39

Another “Joe Johnson Is Very Big In China: A Love Story” Epilogue

You BET there's a story behind this.
You BET there’s a story behind this.

Over the last three years, I’ve had the pleasure of communicating with China’s No. 1 Joe Johnson fan, Yonsan Johnson. We’ve long discussed how his life and his Joe Johnson Fan Club would make a good subject for an article. Today, that story published here.

Below are some of his most recent e-mails to me. In them, you’ll see despair over the fact that Joe hasn’t replied to Tweets in a couple of years, but later you’ll also see hope – hope that Joe will help lift the Nets past the Bulls in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Tonight is Game 6. Brooklyn’s in Chicago, down 3-2. If Joe finally turns it on and helps the Nets topple the Bulls, expect the Chinese Joe Johnson Fan Club’s numbers to swell.

Feb 11
Hi, Evin.
how u doing?
I’m now at home with my family for the Chinese new year.

today i am writing to you just wanna talk about my recent feeling about “be a fan of Joe Johnson”.

how time flies, since that gift(Great progress on it) sent to Johnson… lost, dissappointment…
on may 18th, 2011… I found his twitter, gave him some tweets… he replyed…
after that, I would like to tweet to him… supports, greetings, just liked a friend… an ordinary friend…
I showed him the video mix links as well…
I aslo sent him some tweets on SPRING FESTIVAL’S EVE and today…. but, he never gave me the reply…
I don’t know what I was doing wrong, or why he ignored me…

at least… how can you treat your fans like that?

everytime I told myself:”Just do your best, he will know that one day…”
but… everytime you got dissappointment… even… the despair…

I’m now thinking about to give up… maybe… I’ve been doing the useless things…

OK, I can’t say to much now, it is to late…

If one day you got the chance to meet Joe Johnson, please tell him…
he used to have a big supporter in China… really loyalty supporter…

Continue reading Another “Joe Johnson Is Very Big In China: A Love Story” Epilogue

Michael Cage, Scottie Pippen, Joe Johnson … Fat Lever? Top 8 NBA “Arkansans” In Statistical Categories

Where does he rank against Sidney, Joe, Derek, Alvin et al? Courtesy Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Where does he rank against Sidney, Joe, Derek, Alvin et al? Courtesy Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Ever wondered how NBA Arkansans stack up against each other in terms of career statistics? Wonder no more: below is the first and only comprehensive list including both native Arkansans and non-natives who played college ball in Arkansas.

You’ll notice Scottie Pippen is the only player in each Top 8 list, followed by Alvin Robertson – who ranks in all categories except rebounds and blocks per game.

For fun, I’ve boldfaced the non-natives who played college ball in Arkansas. They are all Razorbacks.


This, by far, is the category in which NBA Arkansans excel the most. Three of the top 12 ball thieves in NBA history rep Arkansas by birthplace (Lever), college (Robertson) or both (Pippen).


Per Game

Scottie Pippen


Alvin Robertson


Alvin Robertson


Fat Lever


Fat Lever


Scottie Pippen


Derek Fisher


Michael Conley, Jr.


Darrell Walker


Darrell Walker


Michael Cage


Derek Fisher


Sidney Moncrief


Ronnie Brewer


Joe Johnson


Sidney Moncrief




Per Game

Scottie Pippen


Joe Barry Carroll


Joe Johnson


Joe Johnson


Joe Barry Carroll


Archie Clark


Sidney Moncrief


Scottie Pippen


Archie Clark


Sidney Moncrief


Alvin Robertson


Alvin Robertson


Caldwell Jones***


Fat Lever




Per Game

Caldwell Jones***


Caldwell  Jones


Michael Cage


Nathaniel Clifton


Scottie Pippen


Wil Jones


Wil Jones***


Joe Barry Carroll


Joe Barry Carroll


Michael Cage


Fat Lever


Bryant Reeves


Nathaniel Clifton


Jim Barnes


Alvin Robertson


Scottie Pippen


N.B. Oliver Miller averaged 5.9 rebounds and Alvin Robertson averaged 5.2 in his NBA career. 

*** The Jones brothers’ stats include their seasons in the American Basketball Association, which merged with the NBA in 1976. I list the total of the NBA and ABA statistics. 



Per Game

Scottie Pippen


Fat Lever


Fat Lever


Mike Conley , Jr.


Joe Johnson


Scottie Pippen


Alvin Robertson


Alvin Robertson


Derek Fisher


Archie Clark


Archie Clark


Darrell Walker


Darrell Walker


Joe Johnson


Sidney Moncrief


Sidney Moncrief


Continue reading Michael Cage, Scottie Pippen, Joe Johnson … Fat Lever? Top 8 NBA “Arkansans” In Statistical Categories

NBA Arkansans In The 2013 Playoffs

This isn’t the best of times for NBA Arkansans.

The playoffs began this weekend with defending champion Miami Heat as the most overwhelming favorite to win it all since the early 2000s Lakers. Back then, Arkansans played pivotal roles on a few title contenders. Little Rock native Derek Fisher, of course, manned the point for Los Angeles, which had to push through powerful Portland teams featuring Scottie Pippen.

A few years later, Corliss Williamson aided the Detroit Pistons’ push to a championship and an injury to Little Rock native Joe Johnson might have been the biggest reason Steve Nash’s run-and-gun Phoenix Suns never made the NBA Finals.

Eight years later, Johnson again finds himself in a supporting role. This time, though, instead of sprinting beside Nash and Amare Stoudemire, he’s jogging with Deron Williams and Brook Lopez on the No. 4 seed Brooklyn Nets. These days, production from Johnson, age 31, is trending downward. This season Johnson averaged 16.3 points on 42.3% shooting – the lowest averages since his second season.

The biggest reason for the drop has been nagging injuries – plantar fasciitis and a quad contusion – since February. Johnson, a six-time All-Star, needs a big playoff series against the No. 5 seed Bulls to give the Nets’ legitimate hope of dethroning Miami. If he’s looking for inspiration, he need look no farther than a series preview which ran in the Chicago Sun-Times.

In it is a position-by-position matchup analysis that pits Johnson, a six-time All-Star who has plenty big-time playoff experience, with Jimmy Butler, a 23-year-old who had played four playoff minutes in his career. The advantage went to Chicago.

By far, the most Arky-fied matchup is in the West, where Junction City native James Anderson and former Razorback Patrick Beverley helped Houston finish the season strong to lock up the eighth seed. Beverley, though, projects to play a much larger role than Anderson against No. 1 Oklahoma City. The 6-1 guard with a 6-7 wingspan joined Houston in January and has proven to be every bit the disruptive defender in the NBA that he was at Arkansas and in Europe. Beverley’s defense of Russell Westbrook is critical to Houston’s upset bid. [The task won’t be easy]

It should be no surprise to Hog fans that P-Bev is the NBA’s second best guard in offensive rebounding rate. In 2007-08, he was Arkansas’ shortest starter yet led the team with 6.6 rebounds a game.

Guards Derek Fisher and Ronnie Brewer are Oklahoma City substitutes. Fisher keeps ticking at age 38 but as his overall numbers continue to dwindle year-by-year it’s apparent he won’t be able to postpone his career’s end much longer. Still, it should not be taken for granted that dude is still playing point guard in the NBA at 38. That in itself is amazing, 33.3% FG shooting be damned.

Brewer, a former Razorback All-American, is a conundrum. He looked like a long-term NBA starter early in his career for the Jazz but in the last three years has bounced between four other teams. These playoffs could determine whether future teams are willing to invest millions more dollars into the 6-7 28-year-old or not.

Brewer’s long-term pro future hinges on his ability to improve his shooting, which has nosedived in the last two seasons. But, realistically, the Thunder don’t need Brewer to shoot even once to prove valuable in these playoffs. His true calling will likely come in a potential Finals rematch with Miami, when he would be summoned from the depths for the most grave task of climbing Mt. Defense. At the summit, above him, will glow LeBron James. Nothing short of a full-fledged living sacrifice will be expected.

“Human pinata” is not the sort of future Hog fans envisioned for Brewer when his career seemed so promising in Utah. Still, there’s no shame in being an NBA Arkansan who is expected to do not-so-big things in the playoffs. Everybody, it appears, is in the same boat.

But just because these guys don’t project to take center court on a national level, they still grab  the spotlight right on this blog.

If Fisher wins a sixth NBA title, he joins Pippen as the NBA Arkansan with the most rings. Where does Fisher rank, though, in other statistical categories?

Stay tuned for Part 2 for a breakdown of the Top 5 NBA Arkansans in each statistical category.

This piece is slated to publish in SYNC magazine.

Joe Johnson, Jannero Pargo At Top of NBA.com’s Best 10 Crossovers of 2012

H/t to NetsDaily.com
H/t to NetsDaily.com

Former Razorbacks Joe Johnson and Jannero Pargo  finished near the top of the NBA.com’s  Top 10 Crossovers of 2012.

The good friends and one-time teammates at Arkansas and with the Atlanta Hawks find themselves together again, this time for better (in Johnson’s case) and worse (in Pargo’s).

Johnson’s play last month against Boston’s Paul Pierce was selected for the top spot, and will likely go down as the signature highlight of his career. It’s unlike any crossover  before it, like a cobra playing with mongoose on a Twister board.

Johnson Pierce GIF

Pargo shows up at #3, and unfortunately for the 10-year NBA veteran he doesn’t look very good. Orlando’s Jameer Nelson puts Pargo on skates and sends him tumbling nearly out of the frame before rising for a three-pointer (small consolation for the family: Pargo’s brother Jeremy is on the good side of things in clip #4).

I’m sure if Johnson finds out about these rankings, he’ll give Jannero some good-natured ribbing about it.

I doubt Pargo will mind. He seemed like a cool, laid-back cat when I met him last summer at the Clinton Presidential Center before the Hoop Jams fundraiser tournament in Little Rock.

Afterward, I visited Johnson in his high-rise downtown Little Rock apartment to interview him for this SLAM article. I wasn’t too surprised when I found Pargo, along with a couple other of Johnson’s friends, playing NBA Live on Playstation 3. What surprised me, as I recall, is that Pargo was playing as the Atlanta Hawks against the Chicago Bulls, but he didn’t choose to play as himself but instead as Joe Johnson.

Which, I suppose, is a crossover of the metaphysical sort.

Where Darren McFadden, Joe Johnson are the Best in the NFL, NBA

Now, yet another reason to love him.

They share more than Little Rock as a birthplace and Fayetteville as a college destination. They share more than playing for pro teams that use primarily black uniforms. Darren McFadden and Joe Johnson have both staked out turf on top of their respective leagues, not yet in the way they want to – with champagne, commemorative T-shirts and glittering gold – but by leading their leagues in key statistical categories.

To wit, ya’ll:

1) Over the NFL’s last three years, no running back churns out more butter per pass route than D-Mac. That is, McFadden has averaged the league’s most receiving yards per route he runs – whether the ball is thrown to him or not. Here’s the breakdown, per Pro Football Focus:

Rank Player Current Team Rec. Routes YPRR
1 Darren McFadden OAK 906 436 2.08
2 Darren Sproles NO 1924 931 2.07
3 Pierre Thomas NO 1093 537 2.04
4 Arian Foster HOU 1371 724 1.89
5 Ryan Mathews SD 594 314 1.89

This surprising stat is partially explained by Levi Damien, writer for the Raiders blog Silver and Black Pride:

McFadden’s numbers depended on “having a quarterback who is more likely to throw to a running back running a route. The Raiders had Jason Campbell behind center for a season and a half and he was well known for his penchant for check downs. That is a strong reason why both McFadden and Bush were on the list for best YPRR. Over 500 of McFadden’s 906 receiving yards came in 2010 alone when Campbell was the starter.” The blog’s author, however, believes while new Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer is more of a drop-back threat the Raiders will still employ plenty of running back routes to keep these players’ YPRR high.

Continue reading Where Darren McFadden, Joe Johnson are the Best in the NFL, NBA

Ruminations on Joe Johnson and Failure

Little Rock native Joe Johnson isn’t quite the superstar we wanted him to be.

For these last few painful springs, I wanted Joe Johnson to be Michael Jordan.

At times, it seemed like he was off to a pretty good start – better than most of us. The man has started in an All-Star game.  He has thrown up multiple 30 point+ games in the playoffs, and even cracked the 25 ppg average in 2007.  He’d steadily improved in each of the six seasons before that.

All Joe had to do was keep improving, just a little bit per year, and by now he would have even eclipsed M.J.

But Joe didn’t keep improving. In fact, his production has just as steadily tailed off in the last five years. And while he’s still been good enough to be a six-time All-Star, he’s also been widely disparaged for not playing like a 12-time All-NBAer.

This was never more evident than on Thursday night in Boston.  All Joe had to do was channel a little M.J., and the Hawks would be on their way back to Atlanta for Game 7 with all the momentum in the world on their side. A win there and the next opponent, Philadelphia, would present the Johnson-era Hawk’s best opportunity yet to make the Eastern Conference Finals.

For the most part, Joe spread the ball around in the close-fought fourth quarter. He allowed young guns Josh Smith, Al Horford and Jeff Teague to take the lion’s share of the shots that brought the Hawks back. Still, Joe had his chances. He missed a six-foot hook shot with 6:18 left; with a minute left, the Hawks clinging to a one-point lead, he crossed up seven-footer Ryan Hollins and fired up the kind of long jumper with which M.J. made a living plunging through the heart of opponents. It clanged off the back of the rim.

Joe had another chance to get his superstar on with a little more than nine seconds to go,  his team down 81-79. From the wing, he crossed up Paul Pierce and sort of blew by him. But there wasn’t much separation. And as Johnson tried to explode to the basket,  to flush the ball home or at least draw a foul,  he simply could not get his Jumpman sneakers high enough off the ground.

Pierce swatted the ball out of bounds, and Joe wouldn’t have another chance to redeem himself as the last few seconds of the Hawks’ season ticked away.

It kills me that my high school classmate can’t help get his Hawks over the hump, that his legacy is slowly becoming defined by coming up short. That he’ll soon be 31 years old, and if hasn’t been M.J. for a spring by now, he probably never will.

But, really, none of us get to taste what it’s like to be the best in the world at what we do. We may try our very best for years, but at some point reality swallows up that dream and leaves us with an irksome, possibly painful, realization that our future is limited. Granted – none of us will be paid like a Joe Johnson relative to our chosen profession. But deep down inside, we know he represents the absolute ceiling on the kind of success we can realistically aspire to.

There shouldn’t be shame in failing to channel Jordan. In fact, I now realize that shouldn’t even be the goal. If it’s a title Joe wants, then it’s the right mix of teammates he needs. As he figures out where and how he wants his career to end, he should aim to be the next Paul Pierce.