James Johnson wants to step up; unsure of where to be on defense

Per Mike McGraw:

"I do want to step up and be the man I know I can be on defense and
offense," Johnson said. "The only thing that gets me nervous when I get
in games is knowing where I need to be on defense. Getting the ball on
offense, I'm 100 percent comfortable. It's the other end of the floor
that I'm unsure sometimes and when I'm unsure, that means it throws off
the other four guys.

"Seeing what LeBron could do and guarding Kobe a little
bit just made me work harder," Johnson said. "I want to come in, lift
more weights, shoot more jumpers, get more conditioning, because I see
how good those guys are and I want to be better.

"I think (his martial arts background) is mostly why
I'm not scared of people. But their skills are great. They're all-stars
for a reason. I can't wait to get there."

Chalk one up to honesty, it's not often you'll hear a player admit he's not sure where to be on defense and that it can effect the rest of the team.  He says he feels confident offensively, but he seems to struggle to find his way there as well when in the games.

Johnson has the talent level to really help the team, and if you read the full article, McGraw goes into some details about their workout and how talented Johnson appears in practice.   However, conditioning seems like a big factor to me.  Johnson has talked about getting into shape, but he hasn't actually done it.

Johnson should get down to about 235, and at that size, I still think he could play PF defensively, and offensively become a mismatch nightmare for opposing fours (or at the very least play with Deng where Deng plays PF as both of them would be big 3s).   I'm just hoping that the light goes on for Johnson.  He says all the right things, but will he take all the right actions?


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  • i always thought johnson was way too chubby to be a martial arts person. if dude can continue to work hard, cut some weight and gain some muscle, then he can maybe be something in this league. if he can learn the defense and perfect his offense, then his acquisition will look good on the organization.

  • Wouldn't it be more substantial if you stopped writing about James Johnson and started writing about the Bulls lack of LEADERSHIP and HEART? Just asking.

  • RE-post (attempt to avoid another thread filled with Leadership and heart comments)

    While I will agree that it is very important to have a leader on the team, it should have been a clear to anyone watching, and also anyone reading these blogs, that the Bulls biggest problem is that they dont have a leader. Everyone knows that...what I take issue with, Mr. Happy, is what were your expectations coming into this season? I've got news for you, the Bulls are playing just about exactly how I thought they would...did you think they were going to be good this year? If so, what NBA do you watch? Is there a different league? As noted, this team, even when 100% healthy, is in the bottom tier of talent. Recongize what this season is, and accept it, otherwise you're going to be miserable for no reason...

  • In reply to Dmband:

    Well....lemme give this post a try ala Mr. Happy:

    I think that James Johnson would lose more WEIGHT if his ASS wasn't nailed to the BENCH. I'm starting to even be swayed by Doug's MADNESS about putting him in the STARTING line-up. Obviously we can't SCORE worth a turd and the guy is a NATURAL SCORER. It makes too much SENSE that since we have INJURIES we can maybe even play him more at SF and maybe have Deng cover maybe 5 minutes at SG. Better HIM than Hunter.....

    Capitalizing sucks.....I feel dirty.

  • In reply to evilhoban:

    Deng cannot even play 5 seconds at SG, as Doug has actually pointed out Deng has morphed into a big 3 and is in the lower tier of SF athletically, so he has no shot athletically at SG.

    However, I would like to see Deng and Johnson paired with both simply playing forward, switching, mixing and matching as necessary.

  • In reply to Dmband:

    he was playing well in the preseason, whaaaa happen?

    Seriously JJ is needed. He needs to take over and help out Rose. This offense is struggling.

  • In reply to Dmband:

    They don't need a third SF. They need a SG with size, who can shoot and a PF, who can post up.

  • Here's a crazy concept/idea:

    How about the Bulls coaching staff, coach up and develop a player...If Johnson is telling McGraw this information, I hope he's telling the staff...I have seen little TO NO DEVELOPMENT in players on this team, with the obvious exception of Noah.

  • Oh well the London game to me I thought he played awesome. I don't remember the rest of the preseason.

  • James Johnson can play SG, SF, and Point Forward. Though, I'm not sure if he can be effective at Power Forward. To me, his weight and agility is uncanny. It's no reason he should be ineffective given his skill-set. Sam Smith said he would like to see Johnson at 2 and 3 more, I agree.

  • Since we haven't seen James Johnson play much I still have to go mostly by his pre-draft stats and scouting reports.

    Believe it or not I picked James Johnson and Taj Gibson last summer before the draft as my Bulls picks/who they should draft. I sat and watched the draft shocked is an understatement when the Bulls selected both the players I picked.

    Not that I didn't have guys I would have wanted had they been available/dropped. Tyreke Evans, DeMar DeRozan, and hate to say it, but I probably would have gone for Jordan Hill had he dropped. And if someone drafted Taj at 26 then Marcus Thornton. I wish I would have given Ty Lawson more of a chance. I was just suspect of his height among a couple of other things. Mistakes happen. As for DeJuan Blair I just thought he didn't jump well at all, had a career weight issue, sub par lateral quickness, shorty syndrome, and those darn ligamentless knees.

    I watch college b-ball games for the sole purpose of evaluating NBA/Bulls potential draft picks, and read and re-read scouting reports from sites mainly NBADraft.net and DraftXpress.

    What started this? No life(Seriously a little fast forwarding of free throws/dead time and the games don't take long to watch. It really didn't take me that long to compile/analyze the stats either). Years of many poor draft selections by Chicago. A couple of years ago I checked the stats of all NBA scorers(hey teams do need scorers to win - and be entertaining) averaging from the top Kobe, LeBron or whomever all the way down to say about 12-13 ppg. Then I further narrowed the field to guys who are efficient scorers from 44% and up. As I checked the stats I found some hallmark numbers/threshold numbers repeatedly show up in the catgeories of rebounding, steals, blocks, assits, field goal %, and scoring. So I developed a formula from these and a point system based on reaching these thresholds and bonus half points for mega surpassing these thresholds beyond a certain number.

    Funny thing is, the more I checked the higher scorers and higher field goal efficiency players i.e stars the higher their overall scores according to the formula were. I'm sure everybody knows guys with huge numbers across the board are likely to be good/viable NBA talents, but deciding on just what are High/exceptional numbers among the elite is the tricky part.

    Bottom line: hyper stats in any of those mentioned categories that overall added up to high end scale(4 to 5 points on a 5/6 point scale) correlate with most(not all) NBA efficient/quality offensive players.

    As I've watched NBA drafts the last few years and followed players with these exceptional criteria numbers from past drafts of four or five years, there's no doubt that high qualifications on this or similar scales are like credentials. They don't garuntee success of drafting an offensively successful player let alone an all around player who can play D as well. But they do increase the odds of success tremendously.

    That's not to say their aren't exceptions to the rule and tell tale signs that negate an overall score. It takes an affinity for stat analysis, delusions of grandeur(kidding -somewhat), finding the touchstone phrases/areas or deficiencies in scouting reports, and learning to spot exceptionl players by watchingn them play - exceptional not only in abaility but against better teams/talent, crunch time, and confidence/presence/charisma.

    Sorry for the long winded preamble, but it puts the assessment of James Johnson in context. Thing is I was interested in guys like Patrick Patterson, Evan turner, and DeMar Derozan - guys who I thought could fall to No. 16 and be steals. Then they all became unavailable for one reason or another

    I never watched Johnson play accept when I was scouting Jeff Teague and Al-Farouq Aminu also at Wake Forest who outshined him when I watched.

    Bottom line: Johnson has all the hallmarks both statistically and from a scouting standpoint of having both the ability and NBA/scoring game. The questions remain on his stocky appearance/ability to get his body fat down to an acceptable/optimum level as just about all NBA scoring successes do. Also his lateral quickness has been questioned especially for a three. Anyone who wants to know why he is regarded as an offensive legit NBA talent should have watched the almost four minute highlight package that was offered by AthletixNation and shown on the Trib(Chicago Tribune) prior to the draft. I know anybody can look good in a highlight package, but his handle and moves were stellar. It's hard to say he wasn't a good shot/chance(nothing is guaranteed) at 16. As for Taj, his jumper is solid, (this is debatable) but I believe he has good lateral quickness for a PF which is different then being fast down the court. If you watched him play game in and game out in a talent laden conference like the Pac-10 has been recently(Brook Lopez, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Jordan Hill, Ryan Anderson, Russell Westbrook, Darren Collison and on and on) his post game/ability looked legit. His high field goal percentage/efficiency is about as stellar as you can get. I do think some of his bad habits defensively, being on a poor team, being a lower pick, having no name coach, and fouling out/foul trouble being somewhat of a factor in his college career are all playing a factor. Believe it or not NBA refs are conscious of all these things. I have no doubts he can be a good NBA defender and all around solid player - say 13-14 ppg due to his efficiency and quality bench guy on any team. Will see if this materializes with Chicago or somewhere else.

    If the length of this post is over the line. Sorry. Sometimes I just think some depth can be of interest and offer perspective amidst the constant day to day barrage of micro blurbs.

  • Sammy-

    Good post. Im a little dizzy from reading that much...my question would be, how do you factor development and coaching into that. Your analysis is good, but if you have a coaching staff that knows how to harness those abilities, that can be the difference between good pick and bad, no?

  • The more I watch JJ playing on the perimeter, the more I think why in the world did GarPax draft this kid. Sure, JJ has nice ball skills, but they wasn't small forward good even coming out of Wake Forest. NTM, he weighed in at 257, and had a identical body fat percentage as DeJuan Blair at the combine. Drafting this kid and then drafting Gibson in the same draft strikes me as a pretty mindless decision. Both guys are power forwards, the Bulls already had Thomas, and they will most likely look to upgrade at the four in 2010. JJ is looking like a player without a place on this roster, and that

  • I really don't think you have to look any further then Chicago's own Derrick Rose. Bringing in two new offensively capable players in Miller and Salmons along with Del Harris or whoever pulled all those nice offensive plays out of the bag last playoffs along with Ben Gordon's perimeter threat/spacing provider all helped Derrick.

    I think the league will make adjustments commensurate with your success/attention you bring to yourself. Being the ROY and scoring 36 points in your playoff debut probably does that. Plus Chicago is a major media market. Clearly having a mentor like Phil, Pop, either of the Van Gundy's, Adelman, Sloan etc. would give a big advantage to a rookie/young player not to mention playing with talent. Offensively though, if you are skilled your talents will rise to the surface sooner or later. I doubt most guys who can put it in the hole will be "ruined" by an inept coach. Like any rule/circumstance though I'm sure it probably has happened especially with major confidence issues or other problems such as drug use/major boozing i.e addictive behavior.

  • James Johnson is not in shape?? Why not????? It took No-Shot Noah three (3) years to get in shape and he is still getting shoved out of position by strong forwards and centers.

    Isn't Vinnie responsible for making sure that the players are physically ready to play the whole game!

    Unbelievable, the trainee Vinnie and the clueless trainee Paxson have turned this team into the Laugh-A-Bulls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Personally I'd rather go after the best talent and person available unless two guys are close, then you probably go for position. Omri Casspi I don't know what he's averaging this year, and being an international player I didn't really get to watch him. Finding out what I could about his game though, I think you have a better shot at talent with James then Casspi. If Johnson does turn out to be a talent I'd see him more likely doing that as a PF also unless he really cuts down the body fat, and gets the stud muscular profile you see of players who are serious about the game. Then he might be an effective mismatch combo 3/4. The thing is if you do overstock a position, but the value/talent is on your side then that value becomes an enabler for a helpful trade to fill the position you need with quality. Id rather go after the talent.

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