Sacramento Kings 2012-13 Season Player Previews – James Johnson


One of the newest additions to the Sacramento Kings, former Chicago Bull and Toronto Raptor James Johnson is ready to impress Sacramento, hoping to have his slate wiped clean after some issues north of the border put a damper on his ’11-12 season.

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

Nobody outside of Johnson and Raptors head coach Dwane Casey know exactly what went down (I’m not even sure Johnson is completely aware) but whatever the case, there was a clear disconnect between the two – so much so that it resulted in Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo moving Johnson for a second rounder after acquiring Johnson from the Bulls for a late first rounder just two seasons before.

Drafted 16th by the Chicago Bulls in the 2009, Johnson’s gritty style of play earned him significant floor time the past two seasons in Toronto, but his desire to sometimes do too much irritated Casey, resulting in a benching that looked to be the beginning of the end for the Wake Forest product. Now a member of the Sacramento Kings, Johnson has a wonderful opportunity infront of him which could result in a starting spot, given the Kings lack of talent at the three. Can Johnson seize the opportunity? Or will he sputter in his new role?

Scott – Johnson was an intriguing addition from Toronto, one who has every shot to earn the starting small forward spot. Hopefully the fourth year player seizes the job and provides the Kings lineup with a defensive presence. Aside from lacking the outside shooting that would be ideal from a small forward, Johnson has the ability to be the glue guy in a lineup full of guys who need the ball.

Marilyn – James Johnson is a new addition to the team. At 25 years of age, he is young enough to fit in with the young roster, but old enough to have a little wisdom and NBA experience under his belt. He was a first round pick, 16th overall by Chicago in the 2009 NBA Draft. This was the same draft from which Tyreke Evans was plucked. Going off his last season stats, which are probably the best predictor of how he will perform this season, he looks like a solid average-caliber player. Per basketball reference, he played 62 games, averaging 25.2 minutes, 9.1 points, and 4.7 rebounds per game. I anticipate that he is going to see at least this many minutes with the Kings. Hollinger rankings gives him a PER of 14.54, which is right around average for NBA players. Among small forwards he ranked 20th; among those in the East he ranked 10th. Compared with other small forwards in the Eastern Conference top 10, his turnovers were a bit higher and total shooting percentage a bit lower, but his rebounds were comparable. Overall, he had a solid season. Given his age and the fact that his career appears to be on an upswing, I am hopeful the feel-good vibes he is going to receive from Sacramento Kings fans will propel him to his best season ever. There is nothing better than to land in a city where you feel appreciated. Welcome to Sacramento!

Bryan – One of the better wing defenders in the NBA, Johnson’s addition should automatically bolster the woeful Kings defense we’ve seen in recent years. Granted, one position wont force the Kings defense into a complete reversal, but high quality individual defenders is a great way to start that transition. Johnson has held a plus defensive win share in each of his three seasons, his highest coming this past season where he put up a very solid 2.5 DWS. With so many mouth’s to feed offensively, Johnson will need to temper back his expectations on offense, but he opportunity for him to take the starting small forward job is there. Will he do it? Most likely, John Salmons will be given the nod early in the year but his hard nosed play and tough defense should capture the hearts of King faithful and head coach Keith Smart soon enough.