When he was given a chance to start last season in Detroit, the Pistons were in the throes of an implosion that ultimately led to rookie head coach and one-time Raptors small forward Michael Curry getting canned.
When Johnson was given touches and asked to impose his will on games, the results were negligible.
In an off-season of change, Johnson now finds himself a Raptor on a team that has undergone profound change.
The most appealing quality to Johnson is his age.
At 22, there’s plenty of room to grow, and there’s an abundance of energy and athleticism.
How he fits won’t be answered until this fall, when training camp opens and when pre-season basketball takes on a different meaning with the Raptors.
Enter the Raptors, who needed frontcourt depth behind Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Rasho Nesterovic and Reggie Evans and someone to battle Patrick O’Bryant for whatever minutes remain.
GM Bryan Colangelo turned one asset not interested in the role the Raptors had for him (Carlos Delfino) and a point guard destined for spot duty at best (Roko Ukic) into Johnson and guard Sonny Weems.
"I heard they (the Raptors) are looking to get up and down the floor a little bit more," said Johnson.
Now he finds himself in Toronto, where he will fight with Reggie Evans and Rasho Nesterovic for minutes behind Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani in the frontcourt. He hopes his years serving as Rasheed Wallace’s apprentice will help him curry favour with the Raptors.
"Playing alongside ‘Sheed, that makes you a lot more vocal," Johnson said. "He was on me like every day. ‘You’ve got to talk. That’s the key to the defence.’ That’s one of the main things I do on the court, is talk on defence. I should be fine bringing that along to Toronto."
C Webb’s Fab 5 – Toronto
The Toronto Raptors are hemorraging international players this offseason, while the Houston Rockets are stockpiling them to fill in for injured Chinese center Yao Ming.
Today, the Houston Rockets reached a verbal agreement with the 6-10 Pops Mensah-Bonsu, the energetic British center that played for the Raptors last season.
The deal is a one-year deal and the terms weren’t disclosed as of this writing.
In conclusion, a fifth of the league picked Bargnani as the best player to come out of the draft with another fifth picking Tyrus Thomas. Only one tenth of the league choose Brandon Roy, who at this point is the consensus best player from that draft class.
Anyway, I just thought it was very interesting to stroll back down memory lane and check out a survey of league GM’s and what their thoughts were about the draft at that time.
Here’s why I think he’d be a good fit for the Raptors:
The Raptors play that Run & Gun style offense that A.I. loves to play in.
One of the Raptors biggest needs other than a true center is a Shooting Guard. A.I. fits that need.
The Raptors have a true point guard in Jose Calderon. One of the reasons the trade to Pistons didn’t work out very well is because they didn’t have a true point guard. A.I. and Stuckey aren’t point guards. they can play the point, but not as good a natural point guard. If A.I. went to the Raptors, he wouldn’t have to worry about distributing the ball cause they already have calderon. All A.I. would have to do is what he does best and that’s scoring.
He would provide veteran leadership to that young Raptors team.
He would bring back that exciting Phoenix Suns Offense to Toronto that Bryan Colangelo so desperately wants.
He would give the Raptors another scoring option alongside Bosh and Bargnani.
And the last good reason why the raptors would be a good fit for Iverson is he’d have a place where he can start. this fit would also give the Raptors a little bit more fire power off the bench with Anthony Parker as their Sixth Man.
#12 Toronto Raptors: Although I do expect the Raptors to make the playoffs and be either the #6 or #7 seed, Toronto is right in the middle of the pack in the East. Hedo Turkoglu is a great addition for the Raptors, but they are still missing several key pieces.
With that in mind, here’s how the Eastern Conference may look this season:
- Boston Celtics 61-21
- Toronto Raptors 40-42
- New Jersey Nets 32-50
- Philadelphia 76ers 31-51
- New York Knicks 26-56
The East is much better, but other than the Celtics, the Atlantic Division is weak. The Raptors have quietly added some nice pieces to the mix, including Hedo Turkoglu. Keep a careful watch on newly acquired Marco Bellineli, as this could be the opportunity he’s been waiting for. Andrea Bargnani should get better also.
4) Toronto Raptors (8) – Other than San Antonio, Toronto had the best summer of any team in the league. RuPaul should be very happy about his new supporting cast. 50+ wins this season is not out of the question.