Wesley Johnson excited for ‘new beginning’ in Phoenix after disappointing years in Minnesota

The Phoenix Suns introduce new wing Wesley Johnson, a player who could revive his career in Phoenix. (Photo by Michael Schwartz/ValleyoftheSuns)

The Phoenix Suns introduce new wing Wesley Johnson, a player who could revive his career in Phoenix. (Photo by Michael Schwartz/ValleyoftheSuns)

PHOENIX — Two years into his NBA career, Wesley Johnson is a certifiable draft bust.

Johnson followed up a weak rookie campaign in which he averaged nine points on 39.7 percent shooting by going for 6.0 on 39.8 percent marksmanship.

The fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft has put up PERs of 10.20 and 8.08, Wins Produced numbers well below average and plus-minus figures that showed last year at least the Wolves were considerably better when he rode the bench.

Yet the Phoenix Suns want him to forget all of that. They want him to forget that he was selected ahead of rising studs such as DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe and Paul George and just play his game.

“It was kind of rough,” Johnson said. “Really I learned a lot from it. It’s a new beginning. I can erase all that and start over.

“I tried to make it work, but they had different roles they wanted me to do and wanted me to fit, and it wasn’t working out. I tried to go out and do the best I could, but all around, it wasn’t a good fit.”

By any measure, Johnson is absolutely right that it just wasn’t working for him in Minnesota. But now instead of feeling the pressure of being a top-five pick who is supposed to be a franchise savior, Johnson can just be himself amid a group of incoming young players searching for that next level in their careers as well.

Whereas in Minnesota he was supposed to become a star based on his draft position, in Phoenix he will be just another backup wing trying to inject the squad with a boost of energy and athleticism. If he plays solid defense and runs the floor, he will be doing his job. Anything else will be a bonus.

This sort of rebirth after moving on is certainly nothing new for Johnson, as he went down the same road in college after transferring to Syracuse following a pair of lackluster seasons at Iowa State.

Johnson averaged 12.3 and 12.4 points on 44.5 percent and 39.5 percent shooting, respectively, during his two seasons as a Cyclone. Then the smooth operator transferred to Syracuse and exploded for 16.5 a game on 50 percent shooting while more than doubling his rebounding average from his sophomore year all the way up to 8.5 a game.

“I think with the blank slate is just me coming fresh, it’s repeating itself like with me from Iowa State dealing with the stuff and then coming to Syracuse,” Johnson said.

Johnson feels like he has landed in an ideal place to jump start his career, saying the news of the trade being done put “a huge smile” on his face.

He believes the Suns’ open style of play fits how he likes to play basketball and that it could be a system he thrives in.

“It suits me,” Johnson said. “It’s going to enhance my skills.”

Although he is 25 years old, the Suns see Johnson as a young 25 because he actually played in the post back in high school and has only played two seasons in the league with a lockout in between.

All summer long the Suns have hyped the player development program they have put in place, and Johnson will be a serious test of that program’s effectiveness as despite his lackluster career thus far he’s still a player that GM Lance Blanks said is in the “upper percentile of athletes in the league,” and he possesses the tools to be a good jump shooter even if he has not quite been that as an NBA player.

“Wes is a young man who is emerging, as we see it,” Blanks said. “Shoots the ball extremely well. I think given his role and comfort his statistics haven’t always reflected that, but he’s very capable and in other areas whether he’s guarding on the perimeter or putting the ball on the floor, he’s still growing, which is something that we’re excited that we’ll provide an environment where he can continue to grow here in Phoenix.”

Minnesota gambled by taking Johnson fourth overall over players with higher ceilings, but for the Suns this acquisition has little downside considering he will provide wing depth at worst, was acquired for so little and still possesses the athleticism to be a productive player in this league.

Perhaps the front office seems a bit too excited about a player who has been so far below average as an NBA player, but Johnson certainly appears to have landed in a perfect situation for him to turn his career around.

Clarification on pick from Minnesota

After talking to PBO Lon Babby after the presser today, I got final confirmation on all the complicated scenarios surrounding the first-round pick the Suns received in the Wes Johnson deal.

As I reported last week, Minnesota’s first-rounder will be top-13 protected in 2013 and 2014 and top-12 protected in 2015 and 2016. Minnesota also owns a lottery-protected Memphis pick that could potentially go to Phoenix as part of this deal.

The below describes all the potential scenarios for the conveyance of the selection:

  • If both the Memphis and Minnesota picks convey, the Suns will get the worse of the two picks.
  • If neither of the picks convey, it will roll over to the following season.
  • If Memphis conveys but Minnesota doesn’t, the pick will roll over to the following season and the Suns will only be looking at a future selection from Minnesota. This was the part I wasn’t clear on and it was what largely held up the trade, according to Babby. The Suns can only receive the Memphis pick if Minnesota also makes the playoffs and the Grizzlies possess the worse selection.
  • If Minnesota conveys but Memphis doesn’t then the Suns will get the Minnesota pick.
  • If none of these scenarios play out in four years then the Suns will receive a pair of second-rounders.

Based on these scenarios, Suns fans should either be rooting for Memphis and Minnesota to be something like Nos. 7 and 8 in the West or just for the Grizz to make the playoffs next season and for the Wolves to be in the top 13 of the draft to get what’s likely to be a fairly poor Memphis pick out of the equation.

From there the pick would roll over to the following draft, and Suns fans would only have to root for the Wolves to receive a low playoff seed or be one of the best lottery teams in the coming years.

And 1

  • Johnson said that former Wolves forward Michael Beasley texted him that they “can’t get rid of each other” as they both journey on to Phoenix together. Johnson described Beasley’s potential as “endless” and also said his game is “unstoppable” at times.
  • Babby joked that he feels “a lot older than [he] did three months ago” because by my calculations the team’s average age is now 26 and experience a hair over four years with vets Grant Hill and Steve Nash now out of the picture. Considering all the NBA graybeards the Suns have employed in recent seasons, it seems incomprehensible that the 27-year-old Sebastian Telfair would be the team’s longest-tenured player with eight years of NBA experience. The 32-year-old Scola is the team’s oldest player, but he spent several years in Spain whereas Bassy joined the league straight out of high school.
  • Babby opened the presser by saying he offered to take Johnson out to dinner on Monday night, but he declined so he could go on a date with “his better half,” Melissa, because they have two-month old twins and thus not much free time at home these days.
  • Blanks said the calls from agents of wing players have ceased after this acquisition. When Dudley was the only natural wing under contract not too long ago, I’m sure Blanks received his fair share of such inquiries.

Tags: Wesley Johnson

  • HankS

    I think Wes Johnson almost personifies the question marks surrounding next season’s Suns. Players like Beasley and Johnson have to prove they’re not complete busts, while the likes of Dragic, Brown or Telfair have to show they can play at a high level for an extended period of time. And Marshall has to justify being a lottery pick.

    Ultimately, it’ll all come to coaching and chemistry. If the guys come together, they can win 40+ games and sneak into the playoffs. If too many of them only care about their own stats and playing time, we’re in for a lot of pain.

    Back in the SSOL times, players had the habit of appearing in Phoenix in September or even late August for voluntary workouts, pick-up games, hanging out together, bonding… I’d love to see the same be the case with the current group!

  • oby

    this suns team next season is very much exciting, i feel in just 1 summer season they are almost done rebuilding, great job for the suns management. unlike the wolves who has many draft picks, trades and everything for the past 3 season, they are still searching for players, they wasted many talents. their management never really know what they want for their team, getting similar talented players wasted their time. i hope mike beasly and wes johnson torches the wolves when they get back to minnesota.

  • KayGee19

    Yeah ur crazy if u think this team is done rebuilding! I know the front office is trying 2 put a team out there even though its with Houston’s & Minnys rejected players, but im not being sold on this team unlike many other suns fans, I mean realistically can this team beat the likes of Denver? Minnesota? R they even going 2 b able 2 handle New Orleans?! My answer is probably not, so 2 me the FO is failing 2 do their job! If the Suns don’t land James Harden next summer then we’re in trouble for many years 2 come!!

  • shazam

    at least there is hope for seasons to come..there wasnt any w/ nash/hill the last few seasons..there isnt really much more the suns can do at this exact minute..at least we are moving forward,albeit 2 seasons late

  • Greg

    @KayGee, you don’t think the Suns can handle New Orleans? thats a little pessimistic

  • HankS

    @ KayGee19: I have yet to hear aonybody claiming the Suns are done rebuilding… what would all the cap space, tradeable contracts and hoarded draft picks be for?

    As for the teams you mention, I can’t imagine them failing to beat the Hornets, as mismatched bunch as they’ve collected. Starting Robin? C’mon… The Suns are definitely deeper than the Wolves, particularly when Fry comes back. And as far as Denver is concerned… well, you know, that’s a good team… maybe the best team out there with no realistic chance to win a the championship. But I wouldn’t say they’re absolutely outside the Suns’ range. Perhaps not in a play-off series, but on any given night the Suns should have a chance against them.

  • Scott

    NO *could* be tough for the Suns.

    We really don’t know how well Robin plays defense on Gortat, but seeing how much Gortat relies on finesse and jump shooting if he doesn’t have an open path, he could get neutralized. After playing against him so much in practice, Robin should know what to do to throw Gortat off his scoring game.

    Likewise, Gortat should have no agility advantage over Anthony Davis, if he’s at C.

    Scola might be called to defend against Ryan Anderson, which would expose Scola’s iffy perimeter defense. If you recall, the last time the Suns played Orlando, Anderson lit them up and they had no solution.

    Looking at the current cast of characters, I would say the Suns still don’t have a solution.

    The Hornets also have Eric Gordon at SG. It would be an interesting match to have Gordon v Brown, as they have similar bodies and styles, but I would expect Gordon to win.

    Where the Suns might have the edge would be at PG (Dragic v Vasquez) and backup PG (assuming the Suns play Marshall), because at this point it looks like NO is going to use Rivers as backup PG. The Suns would also likely outmatch the Hornets at SF, regardless of who is playing for either team.

  • http://jtshoopsblog.blogspot.com JT’s Hoops Blog

    With Phoenix’s uptempo style of play, I’m sure Johnson will flourish. Minnesota was a ghalf bourt game that mainly revolved around Kevin Love. Johnson did not get that many touches as he was basically forced to be a spectator on the offensive end.

  • Greg

    @ Scott

    Shannon Brown and Eric Gordon’s styles/games are nothing alike. Eric Gordon is a penetrator and he gets to the line at will and he is built like a tank. Shannon Brown never even attempts to penetrate and he rarely gets to the line.
    Gordon can also play PG for stretches, or atleast be the primary ball handeler, something Shannon is incapable of doing. Shannon does not really possess any of the qualities Gordon brings other than Brown can shoot a little. Their games are completely different.

  • Greg

    I dont understand how people think the Suns “uptempo pace” is going to benefit Wesley Johnson….The Timberwolves actually played at a faster pace then the Suns last season, they were 4th, the Suns 9th…..So I don’t see how an open and faster paced system will benefit Johnson when he was already playing in a fast paced system.

    Not only that, but take into account the Suns had the pace they did because of Steve Nash, and his ability is what kept the floor open. I am sure Goran will push the pace too, but no one does it better then Nash.

    Johnson was paired with one of the best passing PGs in the league in Ricky Rubio until he got hurt. If there is a player in this league comparable to Nash, its Rubio.

    Wes played with a pointguard that plays similar to Nash, and the Wolves played at a faster pace then the Suns…..and that didnt help him.

    So how is a slightly slower paced Suns team (potentially much slower without Nash) benefit Johnson?

    It doesn’t, and all of this talk about him being rejuvinated in a more favorable system is just talk. Its talk to keep people optimistic on his future, but in reality, they are just delaying labeling him officially as a bust.

  • bk

    Hey…. it was exactly Joe Johnson #2 Jersey!

  • Scott

    @Greg -

    All you’re doing is emphasizing the differences. I didn’t say the were THE SAME, I said they were physically alike and their games were similar.

    By this I mean that both are about 6′ 3″ and 210-215 lbs. Brown has a wingspan of 6′ 7″ and Gordon has a wingspan of 6′ 9″. Both have a shoot-first mentality and can shoot well from the perimeter, and both are athletes who can take it to the basket.

    Gordon has a career 3 pt % of 37, while Brown shot 36.2% with the Suns last season. Both players shoot 80% from the FT line. Both players average just under 3 rpg.

    Also, unless things have changed for one or the other player, the midrange game is the weak spot for both. Both players also prefer to shoot off the dribble rather than catch and shoot.

    You’ve said that Gordon can play PG, but he’s not really got that skill set. His handle isn’t good enough, he’s not that crafty when in traffic, and his decision-making isn’t the best. He tends to have tunnel vision when he’s got the ball. However, Gordon is a notch above Brown in all of these things. Brown should only be given the ball to finish the play.

    What sets them apart is that Gordon will drive in traffic, when Brown will only drive if he has a clear path. Gordon will also try to draw the foul, while Brown will try to avoid contact. That’s not a lot, but that’s why Gordon is a star and Brown isn’t.

    Of course, a consequence of this difference is that Gordon is also injured relatively often, while Brown is injury free.

    Gordon has a PER of 19.23 for last season (in which he played briefly), and Brown had a PER of 13.68 (which would have been higher if he’d played better to start the season).

  • Scott

    @Greg -

    As far as Johnson playing better with the Suns, I would point out that he’d at least fit the system better than Childress.

    Blanks said Johnson could play at either wing spot, but you’ll notice that when they said that, they spoke of WJ playing defense at SG. When they spoke of offense, they talked about WJ playing at SF.

    So think of WJ as being able to switch off with Dudley, where on defense he can cover the SG spot, and on offense he can play to his strengths at SF. Dudley, meanwhile, can defend better at SF, and at SG has the combination of perimeter and midrange game – plus an ability to create his shot – which WJ lacks.

    If WJ is playing SG on defense, he’d likely be first player down the court in transition, and he’s athletic and can finish. Marshall would be looking for him, because his main thing is to push the ball in transition.

    If you think of WJ as being on the 2nd unit, with (perhaps) Marshall, Dudley, Morris, and Frye, then the most likely candidate for transition points would be WJ.

    The likely uptempo pace of the Suns’ 2nd unit would benefit Johnson.

  • Greg

    @ Scott

    I know you never said they were the “same”, and I never disagreed on their body dimensions or shooting abilities.

    However, Eric Gordon at 6’3 215 doesnt seem far off from Brown’s 6’4 210, but just by looking at them, Gordon is much thicker and stockier and he plays like it too.

    I don’t disagree with shoot first mentality and perimeter shooting. However, this does not mean their styles are similar because they have same shoot first mentality and similar body type.

    As mentioned, Gordon’s ability to get to the line is what sets his game apart from Brown. You may say I am only pointing out a difference, but when a player shoots at the rim twice as much, and gets to the line four times as much….it kind of negates their similarities.

    Eric Gordon doesnt have the ability to be the PG(as a distributor), but his handle is significantly better then Browns and he does control the ball often as the primary handler. In being the primary ball handler it suites Gordon well because he can create his own shot, even if he isnt particularly well at creating for others. (even though he has much much better vision and passing ability than Brown)

    Eric Gordon was assisted on 35% of his makes at the rim (5 attempts per game)
    Shannon Brown was assisted on 68% of his makes at the rim (2.4 attempts per game)

    From 3, Gordon was assisted on 40% of his makes.
    From 3, Brown was assisted on 72% of his makes.

    Not trying to nitpick, but this are significant differences in their games, showing they really dont play similar styles

    Just because they look similar and have similar abilites does not mean they play a similar style.

    The fact that Gordon creates for himself, while Brown doesnt, coupled with the fact that Gordon gets to the rim/line way more then Brown, shows their games are really nothing alike. If you compared SG on their body types and shoot first mentalities, then you are probably comparing a large % of SG in the league.

    It doesnt really matter, I simply disagree that their games are similar. Gordon is the type of SG that puts the Suns into the playoffs, Brown will just keep them struggling to get the 8th seed.

    As for Johnson:

    I agree he will fit the Suns better then Childress, thats an easy one to agree upon. All the points you mentioned make sense.

    But…How would the Suns 2nd unit be anymore beneficial then a T-Wolves team led by Rubio (a much much better version of Marshall at this point) and an offense that was faster paced then the Suns by 5 spots? Rubio can do anything Marshall can do and then some. And, Johnson played SG for the Wolves too….Though I see your points and I agree with them, my point is that the situation in PHX is actually a poor man’s version of what he had in Minny already. I dont see him “benefitting” or the Suns being “a better fit” by a significant amount.

  • sun also rises

    While we’re (not) on the topic…. who the hell is PJ Tucker and why did we just sign him to a two-year contract? O.O

  • Ty-Sun

    I think some people are judging Johnson too harshly. As a #4 pick, yeah he’s been a bust during his first two years in Minn. But can the guy perform well as a backup SG/SF for at least a year? I think he can do that but if he can’t then he’ll be gone after a season. And this guy also has some potential to increase his level of play. If he doesn’t pan out then no big deal.

  • Greg

    Agreed, its just I think people need to tame their expectations on the basis that Johnson is going to improve due to the fact he is playing in a “faster paced, more open system”. Its simply just not true.

  • Ty-Sun

    Tucker played on the Suns’ summer league team and was impressive enough to get an invitation to training camp and an unguaranteed contract. He’s a hustle player with a great motor. His biggest drawback it that he’s a 6-5/6-6 SF but he plays all out every play. If he makes it through training camp he will probably spend most of his time way down on the end of the bench but I think he could be a very useful player if an injury forces him to play more than garbage minutes.

  • sun also rises

    Thanks for the dirty Ty-Sun. I tried to click the link on the AR home page but it was 404 status.

    On the positive side at least our reserves are now D-League dudes, Summer League players, vets and not making as much money as James Harden to just sit on the end of the pine and try to stay awake. That’s progress

  • Grover

    Im having a difficult time getting excited by this trade. “I’ll trade you two role players (at best) for a role player (at best) plus a draft pick late first round draft pick in some future year (who will in all likelihood go on to be a role player at best). This has been a lot of talk about a trade that is highly unlikely to make a difference to any of the three teams involved.

  • Ty-Sun

    Tucker also has 5 years of experience playing overseas and was the German League finals MVP last year. He isn’t going to be a huge contributor but should be a very solid backup and practice player for the Suns.

  • Serek

    @Grover, I think the idea was to swap a known role player that was useless to the team (Warrick) for one that has some potential use and talent and then get something in return for Robin, who who was either underperforming or not getting uses enough for the money he wanted. In this case: a random pick and a cap relief.

  • Ty-Sun

    To paraphrase Forrest Gump, “Draft picks are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Johnson was a #4 pick that hasn’t lived up to expectations. Kobe Bryant on the other hand was the 13th pick in the in the 96 draft. Tony Parker was the 28th pick in 01. There are plenty of examples of high draft picks that went bust and low draft picks that turned into great players. That’s why even low first round draft picks are at least valuable as trade chips.

  • KayGee19

    Yup I dnt think this suns team can beat New Orleans, I mean they couldn’t do it with a hall of famer/all star last season so what makes u think they can this yr? Oh the suns got better, maybe but so did N.O & cuz of that I dnt think we’re competing 4 anything next yr, I hope they do cuz hell im in Los Angeles & im coughing up over $200 to watch my suns!! 4 the record I was hoping last season we’d get Beasley Scola & Harden so im 2 for 3, lets make it 3 for 3 next season Boyz!!

  • -@KayGee19

    Wow. Poor grammar much?

  • Scott

    @Greg -

    Your argument may make sense to you, but it doesn’t to me. All it comes down to is that Brown cuts to the basket when there’s a clear path and Gordon bulls though. Yes, it’s a difference between two very similar players, but not a different style.

  • Jeremiah

    Greg, The Twolves were 4th and the Suns were 9th in what stat? The Suns were ahead in PPG and FGA/game. Sounds to me like they played at a higher tempo (by a little). Also factor in that the Suns weren’t very well built to play as high tempo as years past. However this year I would expect the Suns to go to a faster pace this year with more athletes that can get out and run.

  • Jeremiah

    OK found the the stat “pace factor” Wolves 4th, Suns 9th.

  • sksyoshi

    Ok just need to point this out “PACE” just means how fast they rushed their offense it does not factor in Off efficiency or relate to how well they actually ran an uptempo offense. If a team walks the ball up the court in 7 seconds and jacks up the ball 1 sec later it would have a high “PACE” but not be an uptempo team. PACE by definition is the amount of possessions per 48 mins. It is not a playing style. The Miami heat won with an uptempo playing style but are ranked 15th on PACE chart.

  • sksyoshi

    Also Twolves Off Efficiency was ranked 18th vs Suns 8. Granted without nash this will drop drastically. So while they may have taken shots faster it does not mean they had a better uptempo style of play. Unless you are WJ you cannot say he was in a better or same situation already, thats like saying every coach has the same playbook and runs offense through the same positions or attacks from the same area of the court.

  • sksyoshi

    I will say this though, if NO does play us with the supposed starting lineup they seem so high on of Rolo at C, Davis PF, Ryan Anderson at SF, Gordon at SG, and Rivers a PG. They will only win if Gordon puts on his franchise player hat and carries them like he did the game he hurt himself and beat us last yr.

  • sksyoshi

    @ Scott Rolo vs Gortat plz we both know Gortat is better and will own him on the boards. Davis maybe a great def but there has to be something to all this veteran savvy stuff if all the top teams push to sign old guys and Scola can score with the best of the PF’s in the league. Ryan Anderson vs Beasley is a big ? they both out of pos at sf but beasley has more experience at it. And yes it has been stated by NO that this is the starting frontline so do not try to argue that this is not how we match up. Granted Gordon is better than all of our wings but I would like to think Dudley can do a decent job on him both offensively n defensively. Hands down the Dragon will destroy either Rivers at pg or Grievis

  • Greg

    @ Scott, I dont see how driving to the rim in traffic(and converting on high efficiency and getting to the line at a high rate) and completely changing the flow of the game is at all similar to a guy who doesnt drive in traffic and doesnt get to the line. Thats a pretty glaring difference, and a pretty drastically different style for two guys that play the exact same position. No NBA scout would compare Shannon Brown and Eric Gordon as similar players. If one guy scores by getting to the rim, and the other doesnt…..sounds like two completely different styles to me….

    @Sun also rises….I was not aware Harden sat on end of the bench and tried to stay awake…last i checked he played starters minutes, starters crunchtime, and he was the 6th man of the year….but good point, the Suns are filling their roster with the types of guys who should be at the end of rosters. Tucker has a lot of international experience and has won at a high level. Undersized or not, hustle and his drive should be a positive to raise competition in that locker room.

    @Jermiah, John Hollingers Pace Factor “number of possessions a team uses per game”

    1.Sacremento: 97.3
    4. Minny 96
    9. PHX 95
    30. New Orleans 90.7

    Not a big difference, but Minnesota’s system was def not slower paced then PHX, and without Nash the Suns are gonna have an adjustment period maintaining an efficient pace. The Suns really havent ran in years and the only thing similar to Dantoni’s system and Gentry’s is the pick n roll. Both heavily used in their systems, little else is similar. The Suns are not, and having been SSOL or run n gun in quite some time. Common misconception due to their play from 04-05 thru about 2010

  • http://none.com Jacob

    Wolves fan here. You guys are in serious trouble if you expect anything from Wes Johnson. His WS/48 last year was .18! Give him any role, cutting to the basket? nope. Shooting wide open 3′s? Nope, 31.4% from behind the line. The guy can’t dribble and he can’t defend. Just take the 1st round pick and accept Wes’ contract for 1 year.

  • http://none.com Jacob

    Correction, his WP/48 was .018, league average of .099

  • KayGee19

    Yeah Mr or Ms poor grammer much, im using a smart phone & im writing while im @ wrk so im doing it when im not supposed 2, only a knuckle head would criticize about something like that while saying nothing about the article &! Stop wasting space on here & put ur name so we know who u r coward!

  • Mac

    @KayGee19 Hey, know any good bars in LA to watch our Suns? I had LeaguePass a few years back but funds have dwindled since.

    Ya don’t find many of us Suns fans out here…

  • Greg


    Agreed, no role or system can make a player literally go from some of the worst production in the league, to a useful, productive bench player.
    If he plays below average basketball (because what he played was some of the worst in the league) I would consider that a positive for Johnson.

  • Scott

    @Jacob and Greg -

    I’m not that familiar with the WS stat, but if I have it right, Channing Frye logged a WS/48 of .024 in his last year with NY and .054 in his last year with Portland.

    His first year with the Suns, however, where he played at backup C, he had a WS/48 of .141. As the Suns have moved him away from that spot, bringing him more into the starting lineup and out of the center position, where I believe he doesn’t play as well, his WS/48 has dropped to .090 and .106.

  • Ty-Sun

    I was actually looking for some other info and happened to find out that Johnson actually played in the Summer League this year. He was called one of the top 10 non-rookie players and here are his stats and a few comments:

    4 Games, 30 Minutes, 20.5PPG,1.8RPG, 1.3APG, 0.5SPG, 1.5BPG, 48%FG, 45%3FG, 94%FT

    “Johnson proved to be an effective wing scorer in his 4 games this year, showing great decision making and outside touch. His shot selection was great and got to the rim when the opportunity presented itself.”

    Yeah it’s all from the Summer League but I still like that he shot 45% on 3 point attempts and 94% from the line. Both are improvements over his career stats in those areas.

  • Scott

    To clear up an ambiguity in the previous post … I mean Frye plays best as a backup C, and not as a starter and not as a PF.

  • PennyAnd1

    I agree with your Brown vs Gordon comparison. Not even close. Efficient wise & scoring wise, they’re both completely different even through observation alone. Watching Brown alot last season made my blood pressure go up. Just because of dumb-headed plays & slowing the pace down with dumb shot selection. There is a reason why Gordon was offered a max salary compared to Brown who was struggling to find a team that would give him a multi-year contract. And I’m confident Gentry understands that and will value Dudley’s leadership & high IQ in starting him over Brown any day. Besides, stats proved last year that although Brown scored more than Dudley, the team suffered more when Brown came in to play.

    I agree that Suns didn’t play their true fast pace offense last year due to alot of players being brought in and not knowing how to run with Nash. And I’m not sure if Suns will ever be a fast paced team again, or effective as a fast paced team, without Nash now. Dragic can definitely run, but he hasn’t been tested for a whole season to see how consistent he is. If Marshall improves his shooting skills (as smart as he is I think he will), he can consistently run the Suns offense more effectively due to his natural tendency. Although Dragic is more effective as an overall PG player compared to Marshall, as of yet.

    I believe Johnson can improve as a Sun. I said it before and ill say it again, Johnson just did not fit in with the T-Wolves. There were too many rookies, and he was playing as a SG, a role he does not embrace. Johnson is a utility man, and a good one at that, when playing under the radar. He’s just like Josh Childress but not shy in scoring. Josh Childress was an athletic & smart role-player. Unfortunately he didn’t fit well with Suns last year you know why? Because Suns lacked scorers. Childress is a type of player who would excel in a team full of scorer and him doing the dirty work. If it was Nash, J-Rich, Childress, Amare & Gortat? that team would excel with Childress doing the Scottie Pippen causing frustrations to the opposing team with the little things like stealing, screening, etc…

  • http://none.com Jacob

    This is true. However, if you look at it statistically, most backup centers have very good WP/48. Greg Stiemsma had a WP/48 of .181 last year, which seems like a lot for a player of his calibur.

  • Greg

    @ Scott, what did i say about Frye? lol or were you just including me

  • Greg


    I am not saying Johnson wont improve, I am just saying the system alone wont be what makes him go from being absolutely pathetic to being “good”. His time with the Suns will most likley be one season (Suns will decline his option on Oct 31st, if they dont i will lose it). One year and one system is not enough to propel a guy to unseen heights. His best basketball will come with a different team down the road, unless he absolutely shocks the world and plays extremely well. Then, the Suns may feel obligated to give the guy an extension after the season. If he is really good, the extension will cost more then the option maybe…..which would bind the Suns cap.

    If the Suns dont make the playoffs, Johnson is gone, for cap reasons. If the Suns make the playoffs and Johnson somehow turns the corner and becomes a stud, then there would be justified reason to re-sign him. However, I dont think 1 year will show what Johnson will become. As of now, he just isnt that great. Alot of guys are athletic. Alot of guys can shoot a little. Alot of guys are decent defenders. Doesnt mean they can or will be good. Some players just cant figure it out. Hopefully he isnt one of those….

  • PennyAnd1


    Well I don’t plan to keep Johnson as well, knowing we got a chance at Hardy next season.

  • Scott

    @Greg -

    The Frye stats were in response to your comment that “Agreed, no role or system can make a player literally go from some of the worst production in the league, to a useful, productive bench player.”

    Frye went from very poor production, based on the stat you were using for WJ, and greatly improved it by changing position and system.

    @Jacob -

    If you want to go by PER, I believe you will see similar results. Playing backup PF for Portland, in 2008-2009 Frye had a PER of 10. The next year, playing at backup C for the Suns, Frye rang up a PER of 15.09.

    Having said that, we’ll have to see if Gentry can get more out of WJ. It’s not a forgone conclusion he will (or won’t).

  • http://none.com Jacob

    I just can’t see Wes improving. He has no confidence, he can’t hit open shots. He brings a nice smile, but that’s about it. I hope the best for him, but expecting more than below average basketball is ludicrous.

  • PennyAnd1

    Well you just hit the key word Jacob, “CONFIDENCE”. All he needed was confidence. When Joe Johnson had his first year here in Phoenix playing with egos like Stephon Marbury and Amare & Marion, he was kinda shy & couldn’t play his game right, that until Nash came in and distributed the ball well and valued teamwork. Guess what, Joe Johnson benefited from it. I’m thinking Wes can do the same. Especially since the Suns organization has a bball friendly environment with the emphasize on teamwork.