I caught up with James Johnson at media day, and if you didn't listen to my podcast then let me say this about James Johnson. He's the one guy on the team who completely treats you like you're just any friend he has. He never big times you, is extremely friendly, actually wants to talk to you, jokes around, and is always fun to speak with.
From a personal level, there's no one I'm rooting for more than James Johnson to have success. He struggled last season, and while I think Del Negro didn't give him enough opportunities or opportunities in the right way, everyone has to have some serious doubts about what he can do on this level after a poor first year. In fact, I think he has a long way to go to prove himself just to have his third year option picked up. That said, more so than anyone else, I hope he's able to prove his doubters wrong.
You look like you've gotten into tremendous shape just looking at you this season, how'd you go about that process?
Just living here at the Berto center working out with Coach E (Eric). We've just been working hard. I was dedicated, and he was dedicated for me, and I just wanted to get lean.
Besides getting into better shape what have you done to improve your game this season?
I'm getting into better shooting habits, better shooting routines, and making my shot tighter. Pretty much working on my overall game and doing what I have to do for my role and working hard.
What do you anticipate your role being this year?
Right now I can't really say, but I hope everything works out, and whatever the coach asks that's exactly what I'm going to do.
At Wake you had to play on the ball a lot, but on the Bulls you have to play off the ball how have you had to adjust?
I'm moving a lot better off the ball this year. Having a great point guard like Derrick Rose, you have to do that. I had to learn to make quicker moves and quicker decisions when I do get the ball and not take them through my tutorial. It's been working. The quicker moves have helped my game and complement my game more than pounding the ball.
The Bulls definitely need a lot of three point shooting and don't have much of it on the roster, have you been working on your three point shot?
I've definitely been more consistent, but it's practice in gym. When the lights come on that's when it has to fall. I feel we have a great shooter with Kyle Korver coming in. He's a tremendous shooter. Watching him and seeing what he does helps out a lot with my technique with shooting.
Have you gotten to know Tom Thibodeau yet?
Oh yeah. We've been in the gym. He's taking us through drills and things like that. Everything we could need a head coach to do he does. Some coaches ask the assistants to do it, but Thibodeau's down here working us out and working us hard. It's great to develop a relationship earlier with him.
How would you contrast Thibodeau and Del Negro?
Well, I wouldn't contrast, they are two different coaches, but I really like Thibodeau's style.
If anything what do you think will change between last year and this year in terms of your role?
I have no idea right now. He's a defensive coach and we've been working drills on defense, learning his terminology. The offensive is going to come and scoring will come, but right now we're more concerned with stopping people.
Last year you blocked a tremendous amount of shots per minute as a SF, do you see yourself making your mark as a defender?
I just want play both sides of the ball. I don't want to be great at just offense or great at just defense. I want to be an all around player. Last year that's what was asked of me, and I got some good experience, and this year I'm hoping to put it all together and have a great year.