James JohnsonHt/Wt: 6-8 / 235 lbs
Team: Wake Forest
2009 Draft Profile - James JohnsonJames Johnson is the new NBA small forward, years ago he would have been labeled a tweener, but today at a solid 6í7 and 257 pounds, heís a small forward with a build much like Ron Artests.
He had a solid all around year at Wake finishing with 15 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.4 steals. He shot 54% from the field and 70% from the free throw line, and even showed some long distance range, shooting 31% from behind the arc.
Although he wasnít a standout at Wake Forest, James Johnson might be better in the pros. He doesnít need to change his game, as much as he needs to fine tune and refine it. On a good team, he could start right away, and definitely contribute. This past year at Wake Forest, Jeff Teague put the team on his back early, and rather then rock the boat on a team that started out 16-0, he was very comfortable playing the secondary role. Late in the year when the team turned to him, he was quite comfortable taking the majority of shots and being the team leader many expected him to be.
Late in the season when Wake needed a boost, Johnson was more then thankful to step it up, scoring over 20 in 6 of his last 8 games. His best game was a 28 point outburst against North Carolina State, a game where he also contributed 18 rebounds and had a double double by halftime. Freshman sensation Al-Farouq Aminu only scored 2 points and Jeff Teague only put up 12, so Johnson proved that when they needed him, he had no problem being the go-to guy.
Johnson appears to be coming into his own after his sophomore year at Wake Forest and has the physical abilities to be a very good player. Heís originally from Wyoming and due to the lack of top grade basketball talent there, he was never really tested until he went to camps after his junior and senior years. He has progressed nicely since his freshman year and all of his statistics are up from a year ago. What can really separate Johnson from the pack is that heís a quick small forward, but weighs a solid 250 pounds.
In the NBA, many of the small forwards have great athleticism, but how many have the girth to guard a player that weighs 250 and knows how to use it. Johnson has a decent back to the basket game, but is quick enough on the perimeter to take it to the rack. When he does, thatís when heíll be able to use his bulk to simply knock guys off the ball. He possesses good hands as well, so on slashes to the basket, if he gets two steps and goes up, not many small forwards can match his strength and power.
A big area of improvement for James Johnson will be the confidence factor. Many times thatís the difference between the NBDL and the NBA, does the player feel he belongs. Johnson can do so many things on a basketball court both offensively and defensively, that this is the area he needs the most growth in. He absolutely cannot and should not defer, as he has a lot to offer the team that drafts him. At Wake Forest he had games where he kind of fell asleep, and became a spectator. Much of that was because Jeff Teague was scoring most of the points and dominating the ball. Instead of demanding the ball or hitting the offensive glass, he was comfortable just being out there.
When he gets to the NBA, he needs to forget about the outside shot initially and take the ball hard to the rack, where his athleticism will be appreciated most. In time, he can be an adequate outside shooter, he already is, but to just pop jumpers makes him an average player. The only other area Johnson really needs to work on is his three point shot, but that is something he should put off initially. After he establishes himself, a reliable 3 ball, can help take him to the next level.
Johnson is also 22 years old, but only a college sophomore, so he has the age of a senior, but the experience of a much younger player. From a pure talent perspective, look for him to go somewhere between the 14th and 20th picks and potentially be a starter in year two.
Draft Profile provided by Ed Ziti of SportsPolyMath.com
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James Johnson Stats
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