Here are the first year stats of a guy who I think Johnson should pattern his game after. They had similar strengths and weaknesses at the same point in their careers.
20.9 mpg .463 fg% .174 3p% 3.8 rpg 2.1 apg 1.2 spg 0.7 bpg 7.9 ppg
Here are Johnson's this year, which in many ways is his rookie season:
19.2 mpg .466 fg% .217 3p% 3.7 rpg 2.0 apg 0.9 spg 1.1 bpg 6.4 ppg
As you see the numbers are very similar, and as I said their games were somewhat similar at the same stage.
Anyone care to guess who the first person is? One clue. He went on to appear in 7 All-Star games and appeared on more than a few All Defensive and All NBA teams.
(For those of you jumping to conclusions, NO I AM NOT SAYING THAT JOHNSON IS THE NEXT ____)
Now, I don't think James Johnson has the potential to be Scottie Pippen, but I think he really needs to look at Scottie's game because their skills are so similar. Pippen had an awful jumpshot coming into the league, but became a very good one. Johnson has the ability to become a very good player, if he works on his weaknesses and doesn't try to do too much. Johnson's strength is his ability to do a bit of everything. He just needs to work on those things he doesn't do all that well, at the moment.
I don't like the Jamario Moon comparisons for two reasons:
The first is that Moon was already something like 27 or 28 when he got his contract with the Raps. Not only had he spent his prime development years playing against non-NBA players, but I think he was one of those guys who got his contract, then checked out. I never saw in him any kind of drive to get better, no real competitiveness, nor high understanding of the NBA. Probably why it took him so long to get in the league, and why he now plays for the Cavs. J.Johnson is a tough mother lover. A fighter and competitor. That kind of disposition only helps you to get better.
The second is that I hate Jamario Moon (as a player).
Also, it just occurred to me that the Raps seem to have a top-notch shooting coach (English? I can't remember). Derozan has shown crazy improvement. Ditto for Calderon. Amir Johnson is now a somewhat solid mid-range shooter. Ed Davis was awful just months ago, but now is starting to be able to knock down the J. It's not crazy to think that J.Johnson can become a decent shooter. Even developing the ability to consistently knock down the spot up 3.
I do agree with the quoted section above. JJ, as he is right now, is not the SF of the future, in my opinion. He may continue to develop - and I hope he does - but he might be better served coming off the bench.
Compare Johnson's 2nd year bolded stats above with this stat line from the second year of another guy:
66GP 25GS 18.2MPG .422FG% .1803P% .740FT% 2.6REB 2.3AST 0.6STL 0.3BLK 1.3TO 4.8PPG
Not just Diaw. Add in guys like Joe Johnson, Raja Bell and Anthony Parker. I'm sure he never knew how good they could be but he knew they all had talent and potential and had not been properly used on their former teams.
I see no reason at all to view Johnson as a "bench" player. Just because he doesn't put up 15 ppg doesn't mean he doesn't deserve to start. Don't just look at the box score: I posted earlier that, since he's been on the Raptors, his opponent's PER is 13.9. That's elite level defense. Clearly starter quality.
Last edited by jeff_hostetler; Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 01:14 PM.
Just to compare that 13.9 opponent's PER:
Gerald Wallace: 14.1
Josh Smith: 17.7
Ron Artest: 14.4
All three are starters for playoff teams, and considered to be one of the league's absolute best defenders. Not only does J.Johnson do a better job guarding his man than those three - who are all veterans - but he does so surrounded by some of the league's worst defenders (Calderon, Derozan, Bargnani). Put him next to Al Horford or Kobe Bryant, or play him on a team that plays good collective defense and I assure you that number is coming down even further.
Last edited by jeff_hostetler; Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 01:26 PM.
My thoughts were along the lines of letting him play another year at SF and see how that goes. Where he has 2 years left on his rookie deal they could let him start next year and decide if they should upgrade at SF via draft or free agency.
Teams need depth. I think to when Amar'e missed pretty much the whole year for the Suns, Diaw started in his place, and they still won 54 games. Another consideration is match ups.
But if Derozan continues to develop, and becomes a 20ppg scorer (or something close); Bayless takes over the starting PG spot and becomes a 15ppg scorer; if ED can average 10+; if Kleiza comes back from injury fully able to play like he did before he got hurt and they retain Barbosa, then there would really be no need to depend on J.Johnson for points. Given all the tremendous scorers at the SF position these days, having a lockdown defender there to neutralize them is a significant bonus. Particularly to a young and developing team who have players who still need to focus on improving their core skills.
The way I see it, if a defender can get their man to score less than their average, I consider those saved points equally as valuable as if the defender had scored them himself on offense. That is, if his opponent scores 5 less than he usually does, that's good for 5 points in the defender's PPG. Or something like that.
If I had to pick a player I thought J.Johnson should mould his game after - realistically speaking - in all honesty I'd probably say Hedo Turkoglu. He's already got the basic ability to act as a point-forward, and can slash. If he made slight improvements in his handle, and focused on learning to play as a point-forward (including adding the ability to hit the pull-up 3), in combination with his elite defense, he'd be straight up awesome.
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