Wesley Johnson began his colligate career at Iowa State where he had a fine freshman year however his success did not last as his comfort level with the team grew sour during his sophomore season. Johnson ultimately made his way to Syracuse where he was a revelation and that catapulted him into a top 5 prospect and was taken by the Timberwolves with the 4th pick during the 2010 NBA draft. Johnson had a great season at Syracuse as he averaged 16.5 points a game, and 8.5 rebounds. Not to mention he shot a very impressive 50% from the field overall, 41% from downtown, and 77% from the free throw line. However it’s clear at this point the only thing Wesley Johnson had lived up to thus far is being a good defender, his offense is limited and his rebounding rate wasn’t as solid as it was in college. So what should we all expect from Wesley Johnson this upcoming season?
1) What will be Wesley Johnson’s role coming into this season for the Suns?
- Johnson will be on thin ice all year long, with Shannon Brown, Jared Dudley and Michael Beasley competing with him for playing time, one quick slump may glue him to the bench all season. At this point Johnson is probably just hoping that a change scenery will also change his game for the better as it did back in college.
2) What does Wesley Johnson bring to the table as a basketball player?
- At this point the only thing he seem to do right is being the athletic leaper that he is and being a good defender. Johnson’s long arms and athletic ability will keep him in the league for a long time to come but he has the potential to be more and under the guidance of the Suns coaching staff he’s being put in the right place to succeed just like his teammate in Minnesota, Michael Beasley.
3) What’s Wesley Johnson’s ceiling?
- Look no further than Loul Deng. His game is pretty similar to Deng, both are good defenders, both are lengthy and athletic players, and both have a decent mid-range game. Johnson has to expand his offensive toolbox at this point, in his two seasons he has yet to go above 40% shooting from the field, although he shot well from downtown his rookie year shooting a respectable 36% from there but last season he shot a mere 31% from downtown. Johnson also needs to improve his ball-handling, Johnson is so gifted athletic wise if he improves his handles he’ll get better looks at the basket which would ultimately improve his scorer and field goal percentage; it’s a shame that he puts all his money on his mediocre jump shot.
4) Can Wesley Johnson live up to his potential? And if not?
- Yes, Johnson is in control of his own destiny at this point. He’s being put in on a rebuilding team that runs a high tempo offense. He will have more looks at the basket since he’s not playing next to a scoring machine like Kevin Love, he has a team that’s putting 110% emphases on player development, he has one of the best training staff in world keeping him healthy, and he has a player’s coach in Alvin Gentry. If Johnson can’t make it here then he can’t make it anywhere. Johnson’s ability to defend and jump will keep him in the league for years to come, but he has the ability to be so much more than a role player. Much like Michael Beasley, Johnson just has to want it enough, he’s got to motivate himself to work hard, improve the weak areas of his game, and he has to a lot less complacent with what he is now. If Johnson doesn’t show he can be a better player than he’s been the past couple seasons in Minnesota, the Suns will decline the option for the final year of his contract and he’ll become a restricted free agent.