NBA Roundtable

James Johnson

In General NBA on October 2, 2009 at 12:08 am

Nice description of Bulls rookie James Johnson in the Chicago Sun Times

”He’s very skilled, can make plays off the dribble, has a good feel for the game and has good versatility, but he’s young and he’s gonna make mistakes,” coach Vinny Del Negro said. ”He has to work through it, but he does some things you can’t teach. He loves to play; he’s a tough kid. He’ll give us versatility at the three [small forward] and the four [power forward], but time will tell.”

Before the draft, Johnson was listed as a power forward, and he has the size (6-9, 245) to play there. But the Bulls always saw him as someone capable of playing both forward positions. That’s how Johnson sees himself.

”I’ve just been playing the three so far,” he said. ”That’s my natural position, but I can play any position I’m put at.”

Johnson will soon find out.

”It’s gonna depend on matchups,” Del Negro said of where he’ll use Johnson. ”He’ll play a little bit of three, a little bit of the four. He’s played a little bit more three than four in the first couple of days, but that will change and he’ll get looks at both positions. He can handle both because of his size and strength and ability to put the ball on the ground.”

James Johnson reminds me of Boris Diaw most of all.

It’s rare for a guy that size to have his level of ball handling, passing ability, midrange jump shooting ability … and I love his ability to play at his own speed + change speeds off the dribble, that in particular will make him a very difficult cover especially at the power forward position.

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  1. How does a rookie get minutes in that line-up?

  2. Hey Brothersteve,

    I don’t think Johnson will play much either.

    I expect the Bulls to rely heavily on a seven man rotation much like they did after the All-Star break last season … with few minutes available for players beyond that cut off point. And right now, Johnson looks like the third or second player beyond that point — Jannero Pargo being ahead of him, and maybe Taj Gibson also.

  3. Dave and brothersteve,

    I disagree your opinions on this subject.

    I expect the Bulls rotation to look like this when the regular season starts:

    STARTERS: PG/Rose + OG/Hinrich + SF/Deng + PF/Thomas + C/Noah
    KEYS SUBS: PG/Pargo, OG/Salmons, SF/Johnson, PF/Gibson and C/Miller

    Then, once the games begin to play themselves out I’d anticipate VDN shortening his rotation based on how these individual players perform at those specific positions, but knowing that they each have the following capablities, at this level of competition:

    1 Rose – PG and OG
    2 Hinrich – OG, PG and SF
    3 Deng – SF and PF
    4 Thomas – PF and SF
    5 Noah – C and PF
    6 Pargo – PG and OG
    7 Salmons – OG and SF
    8 Johnson – SF and PF
    9 Gibson – PF
    10 Miller – C and PF

    Since neither Salmons nor Pargo equates well with Ben Gordon, I don’t see Chicago using a 7-player only rotation this season.

    Given the versatility of these 10 players, in fact, there are all sorts of different ways VDN might eventually choose to go with the Bulls’ line-up for the latter part of the schedule and into the playoffs, depending on the individual match-ups, for example:

    [8-man rotation “A”]

    STARTERS: PG/Rose + OG-PG/Hinrich + SF/Deng + PF/Thomas + C/Noah
    KEYS SUBS: OG/Salmons, SF/Johnson and C/Miller

    [8-man rotation “B”]

    STARTERS: PG/Rose + OG-PG/Hinrich + SF/Deng + PF/Thomas + C/Noah
    KEYS SUBS: PG/Pargo, OG-SF/Salmons and C/Miller

    [9-man rotation “A”]

    STARTERS: PG/Rose + OG-PG/Hinrich + SF/Deng + PF/Thomas + C/Noah
    KEYS SUBS: OG/Salmons, SF/Johnson, PF/Gibson and C/Miller

    [9-man rotation “B”]

    STARTERS: PG/Rose + OG-PG/Hinrich + SF/Deng + PF/Thomas + C/Noah
    KEYS SUBS: PG/Pargo, OG-SF/Salmons, PF/Johnson or Gibson and C/Miller

    The complete list of possibilities is quite extensive.

    IMO, the PT that James Johnson [6-9, 245] will get this season is dependent on his ability to show that he can effectively guard high calibre NBA players at the #3/SF position given the weight he is carrying, which is similar to someone like Paul Pierce [6-7, 235].

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