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Thread: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

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    Default Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    Today I head back to Tobacco Road, putting the Wake Forest Demon Deacons best player, James Johnson, under the microscope for a complete breakdown of his intriguing game.

    Johnson played against elite competiton in the Atlantic Coast Conference for head coach Dino Gaudio at Wake Forest, and decidely held his own against many of the best teams in the country, in some of the very toughest venues to play in.

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    Before I get too far into this evaluation, I want to mention something positive about the Wake Forest kids and their character that I forgot to write about when doing the profile of Jeff Teague.

    Both Johnson and Teague were recruited to the Winston-Salem campus by the very popular coach Skip Prosser. Prosser was well respected and highly thought of by his peers and former players as one of the truly nice guys in the coaching business, which at the college level is often full of sharks, hangers-on, shady boosters and agents, and the like. Prosser was a long time protege of another coach who fit that profile, a man named Pete Gillen.

    Prosser died in his office of a heart attack while these kids were in school, and it devastated the community of Winston-Salem and the entire college basketball community. Despite that, winning is what it is all about for so many college coaches, and so the back channels were soon opened to these kids at Wake Forest by those suggesting that they abandon their teammates and school at this sign of trouble, in the programs moment of sadness and despair.

    However, led by the high level kids of character at Wake Forest, which included both Teague and Johnson, I don't believe one player transferred to another program. Instead, in the face of adversity, those kids did what they promised Coach Prosser they would do, which is to play hard and be good students and representatives of Wake Forest. In a situation where their own families, advisers, and big time coaches were trying to get the elite players there to quit, they perservered and stayed there, and eventually led the Demon Deacons to the #1 ranking midway through the season.

    It ended up that the teams own weaknesses couldn't be overcome, and they struggled later in the season, and eventually suffered a very bad loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament. But that loss doesn't diminish the fact that all the kids at Wake Forest did the right thing by sticking together in the memory of their fallen coach.

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    Let's move on to talk about James Johnson's strengths and weaknesses.

    Most kids in this draft are not the most well rounded players....guys either seem to have potential to excel on the offensive end of the floor but be bad defenders, or have high level defensive talent with major holes as offensive players. Johnson exhibits some of those traits as well, but he is more well rounded than most of the kids in this area of the draft....he has alot of different skills to bring to the table.

    His biggest skills are going to be as an offensive player I think, so let's discuss his game at that end of the floor first.

    The first thing that stands out to me is this: Johnson just "moves" so well up and down the floor. He just looks like a player who understands his body, understands how to get to where he needs to go. He has extremely good balance, and perhaps most impresively to me he has great footwork in running....he takes giant steps, so while it doesn't look like he is sprinting that fast, he covers a ton of ground changing ends. From a kineisology standpoint, he has been the most impressive player I've done a profile of to date. Johnson just fits the "eye test"....he simply LOOKS like he will be a good player, if that makes any sense.

    His game is extremely well rounded from an offensive standpoint. Johnson uses his left hand better than most players at his size, and is capable of finishing or dunking the basketball with either hand, which is not a small skill...Johnson can finish in traffic very well, and that skill translates to the NBA.

    He has a nicely developed mid range game. He may not get all the way to the rim, but his very nice balance and footwork give him the advantage of being able to turn and face at the foul line or mid post area after catching the ball with his back to the basket and be a scoring weapon. He has the "jab step" move down well, and he has the mid range one dribble pull up jumper already in his arsenal. When Johnson catches the ball with his back to the basket and does what some coaches call a "Sikma pivot", (named after the former Sonic Center who had impeccable post player footwork), i.e. using a reverse pivot to create space between himself and his man, he is exceptional at staying low and quick to the ground, enabling him to rise up fluidly and smoothly to shoot or to make a quick one dribble move.

    As a low post player, Johnson does everything you'd want a player to be able to do, and he does it at an above average level. Again, his balance, timing, and footwork is very impressive. He does a really good job of placing his "power post foot" IN BETWEEN the feet of the defender guarding him, which is the ideal set up to shoot a fadeaway, or to gain leverage enough to spin either direction to score. Getting a post player to do this is not an easy or natural act to teach them, and in fact I believe that post play in general is very poorly taught at all levels of the game right now. Johnson has a skill in this area that no one in this draft has in being able to do that consistently.

    Having great footwork helps Johnson catch the ball very very deep inside, letting him score with ease even against bigger defenders. Johnson just uses leverage very well. Johnson seals defenders on his back with a wide target, and does a good job of showing a target hand to show post feeders where he wants the ball. He didn't always get the ball in college to Wake Forest playing without a true point guard and playing way too disorganized and frenetic in my opinion, but in a more organized program I think he would have put up pretty big scoring numbers in college, more than the 15 or so he averaged last season.

    Johnson can make the easy pass out of the post well enough, and he may in fact be a great post passer....but we don't know that yet because Wake Forest didn't move well once Johnson got the ball. That along with the fact that teams in the NCAA don't have the sophisticated double teams that NBA teams play with leave us with a mystery a little bit of how well Johnson will read cutters going off of him...we just don't know yet. My guess is that Johnson is going to be an above average passing post player, which will be important to him because I think he will end up being a good enough offensive post player that teams will have to double him some to get the ball out of his hands, particularly against second unit big men early in his career.

    I think Johnson will be an absolute offensive force playing in the high post. If a team has a low post presence in the game with Johnson, and chooses to use him in this way, he projects to be hard to guard in this area of the floor. It's easy to see him playing in a high post area, creatively facing up and playing a high/low game with Shaquille O'Neal, Dwight Howard, or one of the other really good back to the basket players in the league. A team like Orlando could REALLY use a player who could play the high post like this in order to have a different way to feed the ball to Howard right now.....Johnson will excel I think in doing that for someone.

    Two things Johnson is going to have to do better to be a really solid/stud level NBA scorer in the low post are learn to "re-post" much much more aggressively after making a pass back out, and making more foul shots. I LOVED watching DeJuan Blair re-post guys almost into the basket support for Pittsburgh, and was hoping to see Johnson do that as well, since initially he does such a great job getting position. Alas, more often than not Johnson would make a perimeter pass and either just stand flat footed waiting to see what would happen, or drift to the perimeter himself.

    Some people are going to want to use Johnson as a perimeter player more than I would. I love that he has skills out there, and he definitely is a weapon on the perimeter against slower/bigger defenders. But I just like him better offensively when he stays inside a bit more than he has shown in the past....I don't want him to fall in love with the 3 point shot, which he has shown no tendency to do as of now but depending on how he is coached, he might do in the future. That's something to keep an eye on, especially if he ends up in Indiana.

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    Defensively, Johnson is just ok. If he was outstanding defensively already, he would be gone way before we pick anyway, so I guess in some way that might be a blessing.

    There is definitely a school of thought that Johnson might be stuck in between positions, and while I see his weaknesses as easily as the next guy, I don't see that as being true. Johnson to me clearly is a post player, and not a bigger wing. That being said, I am only really interested in how well he can defend the low post areas, screen/rolls as a "hedger", his perimeter ability to contest jump shots against perimeter "4 players" and how he is in help.

    For those who play and project Johnson as a wing, I think you'll be disappointed in his defense so much you won't be able to play. As much as I love his balance and agility in most things offensive, Johnson just doesn't slide his feet side to side that well. Part of it is weight issues (Johnson is a little heavy and that needs to be monitored), and part of it is probably effort and concentration. His biggest issue is that he stands too upright after about 3 slides, so big time wing guys are going to be able to take him off the dribble.

    Of course, don't have him guard guys like that and you don't have that issue.

    Instead, I think the best thing to do is to play him at the 4 spot on both ends. He will be able to guard your normal post playing back to the basket power forwards, and he will be able to chase and contest the jump shooting power forwards in the league well enough that he won't be a liability.

    He doesnt have the defensive potential anywhere near Earl Clark, but he also doesnt have his effort/attitude/liabilities either. Clark is a defensive game changer if he pans out, Johnson is more likely to be an average individual defender who plays hard and plays within a team scheme.

    Johnson does need to be taught better, emphasize more effort , get in better physical shape, and learn to play the drive better. If he is stuck on the wing, a team that "funnels" drivers into the MIDDLE OF THE FLOOR TO HELP,( instead of to the baseline like the Pacers do) will have more success with him. Johnson has the strength, balance, and footwork to play a driver to force him to one direction within the scheme of an overall plan, but he wont have the ability to play him straight up and shut a guy down, like a Ron Artest used to have.

    Against a driver, Johnson won't always rise up and contest a pull up jumper hard enough. That is a league wide problem anyway, and the Pacers suck at that as a whole, so he'd fit right in. We only have Granger and Rush who occasionally do that well, and if Johnson ends up here I would home that someone on our team or our staff would emphasize to him that his defense has got to improve for him to be an NBA all star level player.

    In the post, Johnson is a better defender. He has power to fight for position, and good footwork to prevent easy passes to be made to his guy. At only 6'8" he is a few inches shorter than is ideal, but hopefully his long arms can abate that some. He again won't be a defensive stopper in the low post, but he won't be a giant hole either. In general, he will make a guy struggle to catch the ball, fight him for the spot, then hold his ground and force a player to make a shot over him with his arms high. A great defender would be bigger than Johnson here AND be able to leap up into the air and contest the shot, but Johnson doesnt possess those skills.

    As a help defender, Johnson is just ok again. He can be a shot blocker if he doesnt have to move too far to make the play. His lack of ability to slide his feet well combined with an overall lack of natural defensive instincts makes him a helper who gets there a half step too late sometimes. I do believe that Johnson has some upside in this area, and can be coached up....the physical skills and abilities are there.
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    Johnson averaged 8.5 rebounds a game last year playing 30 minutes a night or so. This is impressive to me considering how much time he spent on the perimeter for Wake Forest, more than he will in the pros if he ends up being the type player I think he is: A versatile quicker post player instead of a bigger wing.

    Not much to complain about here with Johnson. He rebounds strong, on balance, and with 2 hands. You could nit pick a bit about his lack of "force" sometimes when he boards, but that is a small thing. He has good instincts to rebound even though he isn't the tallest guy or best leaper. What stands out most to me are 2 things: He seems to often be the first guy in the air to get a rebound, and his great ability to rebound the ball and dribble up the floor himself.

    Getting into the air quickly and first is much more important than than being big and tall. On the Dan Dakich show yesterday, I heard him quote the great Jerry West about this very topic. West said a key scouting thing for him was too always look at guys who seemed to jump first in a crowd, as that showed "quick twitch" muscles, athleticism, and anticipation. I think Johnson has those type of rebounding and muscular talents.

    The ability to dribble the ball up after a rebound is very important on a running team. Johnson's superior ballhandling in this area lets a team be less reliant on its point guard to bring the ball up, and changes the "geometry" of a team's fast break and early offense potentially. In a perfect world, I'd rather have my bigs make great 2 handed outlet passes to a quicker player out ahead, but in lieu of that, being able to bring it up yourself has its advantages as well.

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    How would Johnson fit onto the Pacers?

    Long term I think he might be a great fit. Short term might be different. Let's discuss it, using the following criteria:

    1. Can he play in a line up alongside Murphy?

    Using Murphy as a "5" and Johnson as a "4" works on offense somewhat, but defensively Murphy would get killed by anyone with a decent center. I don't like the combination defensively....of course, any combination involving Murphy and a smaller player is going to be limited.

    2. Can you play him alongside Hibbert/Foster as Murphy's backup?

    Absolutely, but if Murphy plays 32 minutes a night, that just leaves 16 more for Johnson to play as a post player.

    3. Can he guard the "perimeter 4's" that are becoming so popular in the league?

    Yes, I think he can do a credible job, better than anyone we have probably, although that isn't saying much.

    4. Can he play at the same time as Granger/Rush?

    Absolutely, which means Johnson is a better player for the future than the present perhaps.

    5. Can he give us any minutes backing up Granger/Rush?

    Maybe in limited spots, but unlike most analysts I like him better inside. Offensively yes he can play as a wing backup, and since we are talking about only having to defend bench wing players.......maybe I am underrating him as a potential 3rd/4th wing player.

    Basically, the ideal player for him to play with inside for some of his minutes would be a Marcus Camby, Joakim Noah, Tyson Chandler type, who can protect the rim yet not get in his way too much offensively. He doesn't need help like that all the time, but a player like that along with Hibbert in a rotation would be a better fit for Johnson's short term game than Murphy's unique skills.

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    So where does all that above leave us?

    It leaves us with this: I think if I were laying odds today, this very minute, that James Johnson is going to be an Indiana Pacer on draft night. He seems to fit the criteria we can expect the front office to value. If we pass or make another move that means a bigger player isn't needed, then I think Johnson goes to either Pheonix at #14, Detroit at #15, or Chicago at #16. Chicago makes a ton of sense for Johnson's game, and would likely mean a Tyrus Thomas trade is forthcoming from the windy city.

    The Pacers probably like his maturity, well rounded game, ability to score in multiple ways on the perimeter and in the low post, and toughness. Johnson is just a sophomore at Wake Forest, but he is 22 years old, 2 years older than his classmates.

    It's also interesting for me to note that while I often say that a particular player would be liked by Coach O'Brien but not Bird, or vice versa, I think in this case Johnson is a player they likely agree on and both really like.

    If the Pacers select Johnson, it also means that it is likely that the Pacers will retain both TJ Ford and Jarrett Jack as a point guard combination next year, since they will be passing on a high quality opportunity to draft a potential replacement for one of them.

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    Who does Johnson remind you of in the league currently, and in the past?

    Those who don't think as highly of Johnson as I do might say players playng today like Leon Powe or Ryan Gomes. In our recent past, some comparisons might also be to Al Harrington (minus the attitude) A past comparison guys who think Johnson is going to be mediocre might use would be Clarence Weatherspoon.

    But I think Johnson is better than that, so here are mine:

    Current NBA player comparable: David West, New Orleans Hornets

    Past NBA comparable: Mark Aguirre


    Again, the above is just my opinion.

    Tbird

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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    Thanks for the great analysis T-bird. After reading this I'm almost positive he is one of "6" candidates that JOB mentioned recently and he is a very strong candidate for our pick. My question is how do you see him fit Bucks, Nets or Bobcats?

    I was following some Wake Forest message boards throughout the year and again I compiled insightful comments by some knowledgeable posters. Unfortunately I don't have their nicknames but still here they are and I hope you guys enjoy it.

    JJ is the biggest tweener I've ever seen. Unless he develops some ballhandling skills and a serious midrange game, he'll be a complete dud. Same with Aminu to be honest, but Aminu has got a better nose for the basketball and the game than JJ. You can look at JJ and see that he has always been good because he was bigger, more athletic, and older than the kids he played against. All that goes away in the NBA.
    A few weeks ago my desktop was JJ dunking in the Carolina game (I think). I work with a guy who follows the NBA fairly close and he thought it was Labron in some sort of charity game.
    James Johnson has the same body as Lebron James. That is crazy potential in itself. But he's such a tweener between NBA SG, SF, and PF. He's got skills, but they need work.
    Ph....Please! JJ has the same body as LeBron? No way! Maybe if JJ lives in the gym. LeBron is absolutely jacked and his strength and speed is ahead of JJ's. Let's not get carried away now.
    I don't think JJ's a tweener. I think he's got the quickness and more than enough size to defend SF's in the league.
    On offense he's already a great passer. He needs to polish up his jumper and know when not to dribble. But these things have nothing to do with being a tweener.
    He's bulked up more this yr and is more of a threat around the paint and moving off the ball than he is from the outside. his ball-handling is overstated on nbadraft.net as well. his lack of lateral quickness in particular makes me think he's more of an undersized 4 who can play some 3. in order for him to make that transition to more 3 than 4, he'll have to improve his range, lateral quickness and ball skills.
    He's the rare college 3 that will likely start out as a 4 in the NBA. I like him a lot. But his jump shot looks ugly. It needs a lot of work with a shooting coach. If he can improve dramatically on that (like Harrington did), he can be an NBA 3, but he will be an NBA 4 - like a smaller Al Horford. He plays the 3 now, because Aminu is much more comfortable inside.
    I go to Wake and watch just about every game, and go to every home game, so I've got a pretty good feel about how good the Wake players are. James is very athletic, coordinated, and strong, and he has a decent midrange shot. His handles aren't great, he's very lazy on defense and boxing out most of the time, and can sometimes make very stupid plays, but he is our 2nd best natural basketball player. James always looks fluid and decisive, whereas Aminu is a garbage man, he gets open dunks from passes from Ish, Teague and Johnson, and gets putbacks. Him and James aren't similar in that James creates a lot for himself and others, whereas Aminu has no real skills right now besides running the break and getting putbacks, like a shorter Tyson Chandler. Aminu's jumpshot is terrible and he never really handles the ball that much either. He is decent at starting the break though. James will be a short 4 like a Brandon Bass or maybe an Al Harrington, because he's not quick enough to be an NBA 3, and he can hit the midrange J, and is plenty big and strong enough to bang in the post (6'9 245). He is also the toughest player on Wake, and he NEVER backs down from anyone. This maybe because he is a 9 time world champion kickboxer and a karate champion too. He will bring toughness and a nice skillset to whatever team drafts him.
    Antoine freakin' Walker, unfortunately. Just what the world needs...
    This is from an anonymous scout:

    "I love him, but I don't know if he plays hard every night. He's a sneaky athlete. He has that big body, a good mind, a great passer who can put it on the floor, step out and shoot it. He's physical enough that he can pound it inside if he wants to."
    This is from an anonymous GM:

    "No one is going to mess with that kid. He and his dad are serious kickboxers. That will get you instant respect in the NBA. Instant."

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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    TBird... as always my friend.

    Placebo.... terrific follow up.

    This is my number one player that I hope the Pacers are targetting, assuming they stay at 13. From value and need perspectives, he fits everything we want and won't cost us to move up. I would love to see him as a Pacer. I may even forego my wishes of signing Brandon Bass if we take him.

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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    I hadn't really considered him, but if he's as good in the post as you say TBird, we'd be hard pressed to pass on him. Al Jefferson came to mind when you were talking about his offensive post footwork. A mini version perhaps?

    His pre-draft interview with Sacto, he says he prefers playing at the 3. If that's the intention, I wouldn't have interest.
    Last edited by ESutt7; 06-13-2009 at 08:20 PM.

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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    I have been trying to convince myself that Johnson would not work here. But the more I hear about his bulking up, and other GMs salivating over him, I think he might work out.

    If he has trouble with defensive rotations, and we select him. Playing 15 minutes will be hopeful. But when Foster/Murphy go down with an injury, he might get his Rush appearance.


    I think this guy could be great in the pick n roll if we ever utilize it.

    Good call. I like him.

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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    http://www.nba.com/pacers/news/james_johnson_2009.html

    Notice how Johnson says that he can sub for Danny and that Danny can help him take his game to the next level. He also speaks of "running the 4-3 interchange". Also, note that the portion of the written description about his strengths says "Strong, fluid and athletic wing with a versatile skill-set. Handles the ball well and can shoot from distance. Sees the floor and will make the extra pass. Rebounds at a solid clip."

    Sounds like he, as well as the Pacers, believe that he is a big wing player who can rebound. It doesn't sound as if he thinks that he is actually a traditional 4, or that he would anticipate being utilized as one. This may impact his ability to be converted to the position by whoever coaches him.

    If the Pacers have plans to trade another of our more established wings for a higher quality interior player, this could be a beneficial, intriguing pick. Or, they could be looking at him as some sort of insurance policy in case Dunleavy isn't able to return to form as quickly as they would like (which would be horrible for the franchise IMO).

    Otherwise, I am not sure why we would have much of a reason to choose him.
    Last edited by Brad8888; 06-14-2009 at 11:18 AM. Reason: Link didn't show up

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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad8888 View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    http://www.nba.com/pacers/news/james_johnson_2009.html

    Notice how Johnson says that he can sub for Danny and that Danny can help him take his game to the next level. He also speaks of "running the 4-3 interchange". Also, note that the portion of the written description about his strengths says "Strong, fluid and athletic wing with a versatile skill-set. Handles the ball well and can shoot from distance. Sees the floor and will make the extra pass. Rebounds at a solid clip."

    Sounds like he, as well as the Pacers, believe that he is a big wing player who can rebound. It doesn't sound as if he thinks that he is actually a traditional 4, or that he would anticipate being utilized as one. This may impact his ability to be converted to the position by whoever coaches him.

    If the Pacers have plans to trade another of our more established wings for a higher quality interior player, this could be a beneficial, intriguing pick. Or, they could be looking at him as some sort of insurance policy in case Dunleavy isn't able to return to form as quickly as they would like (which would be horrible for the franchise IMO).

    Otherwise, I am not sure why we would have much of a reason to choose him.

    It remains a great debate in many talent evaluators minds what exactly Johnson is, I freely admit that.

    In fact, I would say more than half of the teams in the league would say that they view him as a perimeter player, who has some post up skills, instead of my view that he is a post player with some perimeter skills.

    I view him the way that I do because I evaluate players personally from a defensive perspective first. The first thing I personally ask is "Who can he guard"? instead of "How can he help us score"? In my opinion he will do better defensively playing defensively against most 4 players rather than trying to guard quicker wings on the perimeter.

    Think of it this way: When in the game against these other teams, who do you have him guard?

    Against Cleveland, he guards Verajeo, not LBJ.
    Against Orlando, he guards Lewis/Terkoglu, not Petrius
    Against Boston, he guards Garnett, not Pierce or Allen
    Against Atlanta, he guards Horford, not Joe Johnson


    Thats not to say he can't guard some wings who are a little limited offensively, because he can. He can guard Teyshaun Prince ability wings I think most of the time, it just won't be his strong suit.

    His flexibility is both an asset and a curse to him in some ways......in this way he is a player very similar to Al Harrington.

    Johnson is a much better rebounder with better reach than Johnson has, which is why I think he is a smallish 4 rather than a power 3, which is how I view Harrington.

    No question, others will feel differently. In fact, one of the draft sites popular on the web actually has an NBA comparable to him as our own Danny Granger, a player who has eschewed a post game for a perimeter one.

    A big time defending center would cover up almost every deficiency Johnson has as a player defensively, and would allow you to play him more as a PF. If I were Indiana, and had Johnson in my plans to draft, I'd start looking to move Murphy for a player who complements our roster better inside, like a Tyson Chandler, Jason Thompson, Marreese Speights perhaps, Joakim Noah or players like them.....bigs who can play both as a back up to Hibbert AND also at the same time as Hibbert.
    Last edited by thunderbird1245; 06-14-2009 at 03:05 PM.

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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    Listening to recent interviews, he views himself as a 3, and says that he models his game after Pierce and Melo. Does that concern anyone at all? TBird, could you see JJ's desire to be in that Melo/PP mold being a problem, where he would drift away from the basket where you view him as more effective? Or do you view it as a postive in that he can be both a good post up/P+R 4 as well as a face up 4?

    I could see the Harrington thing...perhaps being better in the post, but preferring to play outside. The versatility is good, I just hope he wouldn't mind being a 4 if we draft him. He certainly wouldn't get a lot of minutes at the 3, esp. if Dun comes back.

    Considering the PGs...a lot of them seem similar...perhaps that's why we'd look to acquire a late 1st, if there was one we liked? Or maybe one of the wings. But there are some intriguing guys at the back end of the 1st that could be quality role players on good teams: Budinger, Maynor, Collison, Young, Ellington, or even Teague if he slips could be worth a late 1st.

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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    I have more to say on this issue when I have more time, but I think that James Johnson is just as much of a 4 as Rashard Lewis, Boris Diaw, Thaddeus Young, Yi Jianlian, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Shawn Marion, Michael Beasley, Antawn Jamison, Hakim Warrick, Andrei Kirilenko, Ryan Gomes, Jeff Green, and Lamar Odom. It doesn't matter what he wants to play or who he patterns his game after. All he needs to be is strong enough to bang in the post (he is), be an effective rebounder (one of the questions I have about him) and on a team where the majority of the minutes at the 3 are going to be played by a superior player (Granger), now he's a perimeter-oriented 4 rather than a three. He's never going to be a 4 like Dale Davis, but those guys are nearly impossible to find these days. I think James Johnson will be plenty sufficient to play the 4 on most nights in the NBA.
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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    After reading TBird's analysis I did more homework on Johnson, and I tend to agree that this is going to be our guy. And you make a good point, a lot of the 4s are 3/4s, and JJ can certainly do that. I can definitely see the West comparison, and I hope he's used in a similar fashion. I'd love to see him utilized in P+R and pick and pops, while getting a certain number of touches on the low block every night. I'll be interested to see if the Pacers like anyone else enough to pick up another pick. But picking a big at 13 (if one was good enough) instead of a PG has always made more sense to me.

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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    Will he still be there at 13?
    I'd rather die standing up than live on my knees.

    -Emiliano Zapata

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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    I can't believe I haven't heard a comparison to Paul Milsap. Undersized with excellent athleticism. A nose for the ball rebounding to complement that level of athleticism from a "4". I really think he compares VERY well to a Paul Milsap. The same player most Pacers fans on here covet. I think this is our guy. He gets in an NBA level work out regimen and he becomes the exact player we want. I am not saying he changes much of his game at all. I just think he needs to play the way he is comfortable and that is what we want. I think he makes the Carmello comparison only because he is hyping his status that way to make that comparison from GM's. His agent is doing a good job. He is the player I want. I won't be disappointed in a "draft our favorite PG prospect and trade Ford" concept however. I really think we will have a solid offering of PG's at 13 if they can make something else work. With our pick at 13, this is my guy though, with no assumptions of trade.

  16. #13

    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    It's possible a team like NJ could take him over any PG (since they have Harris) and over Hansborough or Blair.

    And I think the fact that he can handle the ball and has a perimeter game negates the comparison to Millsap who is a post player/dirty work kind of a guy more than doing anything on the perimeter in terms of creating shots.

  17. #14
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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    Audio interview with Johnson:

    http://a1135.g.akamai.net/f/1135/182...TLE=Interviews

    He specifically points out wanting to play the 3 at about the minute mark.

    Gosh, would seem awful counterintuitive to bring in another guy in our "position of strength", but we don't have any depth there, especially since we're letting Daniels go. Bringing him in as Danny's backup, and testing him at the 4 might be what they'd be thinking if they drafted him.

    I'd bet that if we don't draft him at 13, then he'll be gone the pick or two afterwards, so they'd have to be targeting him in order to land him.

    Seems like the decision point for the Pacers is pretty cut and dried: if they've decided to re-sign Jack and hold onto TJ, then Johnson or Blair would likely be our pick...

    If on the other hand, they want to trade Ford, or not re-sign Jack, then they'll go after a PG that drops, or take Maynor.

    If Brandon Jennings dropped, I'd be a happy man.

  18. #15
    It is ka Thankee sai Major Cold's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    Quote Originally Posted by pacergod2 View Post
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    I can't believe I haven't heard a comparison to Paul Milsap. Undersized with excellent athleticism. A nose for the ball rebounding to complement that level of athleticism from a "4". I really think he compares VERY well to a Paul Milsap. The same player most Pacers fans on here covet. I think this is our guy. He gets in an NBA level work out regimen and he becomes the exact player we want. I am not saying he changes much of his game at all. I just think he needs to play the way he is comfortable and that is what we want. I think he makes the Carmello comparison only because he is hyping his status that way to make that comparison from GM's. His agent is doing a good job. He is the player I want. I won't be disappointed in a "draft our favorite PG prospect and trade Ford" concept however. I really think we will have a solid offering of PG's at 13 if they can make something else work. With our pick at 13, this is my guy though, with no assumptions of trade.
    The only think Milsap attribute about Johnson is his first to lift for a rebound. Other than that I think defensively, and perimeter speaking they are two different players.

  19. #16

    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    Good point. Yeah, I wish he wouldn't be saying that we wants to play the 3. He could still be a 4 that plays like a 3, but I'd rather us use him like West. West is away from the basket a good amount, running pick and roll.

    You're probably right about how our decision will be made. It will be VERY interesting when we are on the clock, as I think there will be 3-4 legit possibilities on the board, possibly including someone we didn't expect to be there. I tend to think we will draft someone who we think can contribute right away, so despite Jennings' upside, I don't think we'd take him unless we were trading him. And, based on some of his workouts, he may not even be there.

    I hope we get some interesting interviews/info out of the workouts tomorrow that feature Teague, Lawson, and Blair...they were supposed to have Holiday too. Not sure if he backed out or not, but the IndyStar article doesn't mention his name this time.

  20. #17
    NaptownSeth is all feel Naptown_Seth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    I have a couple of Wake games from looking at Teague and Aminu more than JJ (at the time) and I'm going back to rewatch them (and start pulling clips) before jumping more in here. I will say that off the top that Aminu is closer to a true PF than Johnson is.

    I think JJ is the Pacers target, or he and Blair are, but I don't know how I feel about that yet.

    I do know that a brief revisit to Wake in action reminded me why I'm not that big on Maynor. Why go there early when you can get the same thing from Teague later in the draft (apparently).

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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    I'm not too wild about James Johnson. Granted, I haven't watched him a great deal, but nothing I've seen gets me too excited about him.

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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    Quote Originally Posted by pacergod2 View Post
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    TBird... as always my friend.

    Placebo.... terrific follow up.

    This is my number one player that I hope the Pacers are targetting, assuming they stay at 13. From value and need perspectives, he fits everything we want and won't cost us to move up. I would love to see him as a Pacer. I may even forego my wishes of signing Brandon Bass if we take him.
    I thought the exact same thing after reading their 2 posts. At 6'8" and 245 lbs, he should be able to play PF in the NBA and would probably be a good fit for the Pacers. Great job, T-Bird and Placebo.

    I'm mostly intrigued by the fact that he's a kickboxer as well. There are a couple of NBA All-Stars that either grew up as boxers (Ron Artest) or use boxing to train during the offseason (Kobe Bryant) and it seems to help their conditioning and enhance their athleticism. Getting more athletic players is a need that Johnson could help the Pacers fill.

    I've never really watched him play but it seems that he's more active defensively than what I've read. He averaged 1.45 blocks and 1.33 steals during his college career.
    Last edited by naptownmenace; 06-15-2009 at 12:40 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by vnzla81
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    Larry is not coming back, he didn't have a meeting with Orlando for not reason, yeah he is coming back to the NBA but not to the Pacers, the notion that he is a taking a year off and then come back is absurd.
    Quote Originally Posted by Trader Joe View Post
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    GOOD GOD THAT'S LARRY BIRD'S MUSIC!

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    Default Re: Tbird 2009 draft analysis #9: James Johnson

    quoted from Placebo's quotes

    "He is also the toughest player on Wake, and he NEVER backs down from anyone. This maybe because he is a 9 time world champion kickboxer and a karate champion too. He will bring toughness and a nice skillset to whatever team drafts him. "

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