Lakers player reviews: Wesley Johnson
May, 24, 2014
By Dave McMenamin
Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty ImagesWesley Johnson has as much athleticism as anyone, but consistency has been his problem.
Season recap: Johnson's season began with coach Mike D'Antoni trying to mold the small forward's game to resemble Shawn Marion's, who could guard all five positions on the court and caused constant defensive disruption during their days together in Phoenix. There were times that Johnson seemed to grasp the role -- he even managed to average 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks in just 28.4 minutes per game -- but more often than not, Johnson let his offensive production dictate his defensive intensity. He showed some promise late in the season playing the stretch-4, but overall Johnson struggled to find consistency on both ends of the floor.
Season lowlight: In the Lakers' four games against the Los Angeles Clippers last season, Johnson shot a combined 10-for-39. The Lakers lost three of the four games, and the one game they did win on opening night, Johnson was 1-for-11.
Final grade: C+
Notes: Johnson was one of a handful of former lottery picks on the Lakers last season that had previously fallen out of favor with the rest of the league and was trying to revamp his career in L.A. If one thing stood out in his first season with the Lakers, it was his athleticism. Despite being just 6-foot-7, 215 pounds, he had seven games with 10 rebounds or more, using his quickness and otherworldly jumping ability to attack the glass. He even leaped completely over Houston's Aaron Brooks for a layup in a game in January. The problem was his athleticism was just as frustrating as it was breathtaking because of the infrequency in which he implemented it to impact a game.
Quotable: "They showed interest, but I think they're going to keep that quiet until it comes out in July to see what's going to happen. I think they have a lot of stuff to deal with as far as like the lottery and dealing with the draft and they'll let me know when it's time. So, I'm just hoping that they're interested and I'll let that play out in July." -- Johnson after his exit interview.
What's next? One thing Johnson has going for him? He shares the same agent, Rob Pelinka, as Kobe Bryant. Pelinka has done quite well in getting the Lakers to open up their wallets for his clients in the past. On paper, Johnson has plenty to offer -- youth, athleticism, length and versatility. But after getting so many chances to perform with a long leash this past season, the Lakers could be wary about his ability to convert himself into a consistent role player in the future.