October 1, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings small forward James Johnson (52) during media day at Kings Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

Sacramento Kings' James Johnson: A mixture of Intrigue and Fighting Finesse


James Johnson comes to Sacramento with just an air of mystery and a cool confident demeanor.

A 25-year-old forward, a first round pick out of the 2009 NBA Draft, selected 16th overall by the Chicago Bulls, he comes out of Wake Forest University.

This morning, Ailene Voison wrote about Johnson in her interview with him to reveal surprising and interesting facets about this young man.

… effort and energy won’t be issues with the 6-foot-9 Johnson, who was born in Southern California but grew up in Cheyenne, Wyo(ming). After Johnson failed to establish himself on a talented and crowded Chicago Bulls team or overcome an uneasy relationship with Raptors coach Dwane Casey, he sees the offseason trade to Sacramento as his first career break.

Beware, Johnson warns only half-jokingly. He will come out of the starting lineup kicking and screaming.

The son of an African American ex-Marine (Willie) and a Samoan mother (Vi) who came to the United States when she was 17, Johnson has six brothers and two sisters, and all but one has a black belt in martial arts.

One can only infer Johnson’s years of practice in the martial arts can only help him with his defensive game and perhaps bring a fighting edge to it.

Aileen also had this to say:

Before Johnson committed to basketball and football in high school…he won seven won Karate titles, nine national championships, and was 20-0 as a kickboxer.

Is there any question Johnson knows what to do with his hands and feet? That he knows how to take an opponent by surprise and finesse. These are all skills he can bring to his defensive game. I would imagine he would take a certain amount of pride in translating his years of training in the martial arts to basketball.
The starting small forward position could be his, if Head Coach Keith Smart likes what he sees from him. Last season, Tyreke Evans was put in the position, but with the addition of Johnson, Tyreke is more likely to revert back to a guard, a position in which he appears more comfortable.

As an aside, in a recent poll of 100 A Royal Pain fans soliciting opinions of their preferred starting line ups, the majority (51 percent) voted for a starting line up of Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans, James Johnson, Jason Thompson, and DeMarcus Cousins.

Fully 90 percent of voters want James Johnson in the starting lineup when 12 different possibilities were given. So, it would seem a number of Sacramento Kings fans are getting on-board for James Johnson.

I look forward to seeing how James Johnson brings his skills to the Sleep Train Arena. Can’t wait to see how he deals with his match-ups, including those with Metta World Peace.

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