As NBA free agency talk takes over the offseason, there have been plenty of unrestricted free agents who have yet to be mentioned. Before you start causing a ruckus about this idea, I will inform you that there is no such rumor of this idea circulating the NBA world.
Let’s just start with a peek at Wesley Johnson’s 2013-2014 stats:
|28.4 MPG||.425 FG%||.369 3P%||.792 FT%||4.4 RPG||1.6 APG||1.0 BPG||1.1 SPG||9.1 PPG|
One concern that the San Antonio Spurs need to reach before the season is who will backup reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard when he needs a break.
As necessary as it is to have Leonard on the floor, all players certainly need to catch a breather. What better backup than one who plays almost exactly the same as your starter?
Mike D’Antoni spent last season trying to turn Johnson into his own Shawn Marion. Although Johnson never came close to that accomplishment, he did show signs of elite athleticism. The few Laker games I watched, because they were unfortunately still on national TV, I enjoyed watching Wesley Johnson play—what stood out were the similarities between Johnson and Leonard.
Physically, both players stand at 6-7 with a wingspan over seven feet. They both came into the draft with an 8-10 standing reach, and, perhaps, most importantly, are willing learners.
The ability to be a willing learner might be one of the most important features to fit under Coach Pop’s system.
Like Leonard, Johnson is able to defend multiple positions. While he may not be as elite of a defender, Johnson can hold his own and wouldn’t be any kind of defensive liability off the bench. Averaging a block and over one steal a game is impressive, and that was under the offensive minded D’Antoni. Although he would be playing much fewer minutes, imagine the type of defense Johnson can learn from Pop.
On offense, Johnson hasn’t flourished as much as Leonard but still is an above average three-point shooter, which now seems like a must-have attribute to make it on the Spurs. Johnson can run the floor and has no problem with a fast-paced game.
His athleticism is something the Spurs have always lacked and could be a nice addition to a team that has been to the NBA Finals two years in a row. I know Spurs fans would enjoy those jaw dropping moments of Johnson sky rocketing above the rim and throwing it down.
He is still only 26 years old and is entering his prime and could very easily have a breakout year under the right coach.
While that won’t be the expectation for him since he would be more of a role player/insurance policy behind Leonard, he could be the hidden gem in free agency for San Antonio.
He would be a nice pickup in NBA free agency who wouldn’t cause any drastic changes to the system, similar to the Marco Belinelli signing last year.
The former fourth overall pick still has plenty to prove, and, hopefully, could blossom with the Spurs.
***All Stats Courtesy of ESPN.com