James Johnson had a strong debut with 21 points on 9 of 13 from the field along with eight boards, a block, a steal, four turnovers, and five fouls in 37 and a half minutes. Beyond the statistics Johnson flashed all the things you wanted to see from him.
He showed tremendous ball handling throughout most of the game, flashed great passing, didn’t settle for jumpers, but shot well when he took them. Overall, Johnson had a strong debut for the Bulls. After the game, I was able to catch up with him for a few minutes.
Doug: You looked great as a perimeter oriented player today flashing great ball handling and driving. The Bulls may have more room for you at the four, how do you see yourself fitting in with the team?
Johnson: Where ever they put me that’s my spot. I’m going to work hard to get into the rotation. If they put me in the post I’m going to work hard in the post. If they put me on the perimeter I’ll work hard there.
Doug: In five years, which players do you think you’ll be comparable to today?
Johnson: Paul Pierce or Carmelo Anthony. I have a lot of respect for the game I just need to keep working.
Doug: Any thoughts on your game today?
Johnson: I need to work defensively. I need to work. I give myself a C-.
Doug: Who have you been hanging out with on the Bulls?
Johnson: Derrick Rose. He was good friends with one of my best friends, and we met awhile back, so when I went to Chicago he called me up and we’ve been hanging out ever since.
Doug: I scouted for draftexpress and had you high in my rankings, any reason you think you slipped? I’m a fan of the Bulls, so I’m glad you did.
Johnson: I’m as happy as you are. I didn’t know where I’d go. These coaches gave me a chance. I have deep respect for them for doing that, and I’m not going to let them down.
At this point the team called Johnson away as he was answering questions from about six of us, but he was humble, engaging, and struck me as a good guy. Hopefully, I’ll get another chance to talk to Johnson tomorrow.
Hopefully, we’ll have more good news to talk about.