Who would win a Raptors-only track-and-field day? How good is Amir Johnson’s Celine Dion impression? When was the last time Dwane Casey cried at the movies? Every day until the season starts, we throw a Raptor in front of a green screen and ask him the tough questions. Today, James Johnson has no time for tears.
Know Your Raptors: Lou Williams | Kyle Lowry | Bruno Caboclo | Chuck Hayes | Jonas Valanciunas | Amir Johnson | Tyler Hansbrough | Landry Fields | Terrence Ross | James Johnson | Patrick Patterson | Lucas Nogueira | DeMar DeRozan | Greivis Vasquez | Dwane Casey
James Johnson left his previous Raptors tenure on less-than-peachy terms with the club. He showed promise through much of the2010-11 season—his second in the NBA and first in Toronto, after coming over via trade from Chicago—starting all 25 games he played and posting an assist and a block per game while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field. After the season, incoming head coach Dwane Casey likened Johnson to Shawn Marion, the defensive stalwart who was an integral part of the championship Mavericks team where Casey served as an assistant.
But the following season, Johnson was inconsistent. His shooting percentages plummeted and, after a sudden benching, rumours of in-fighting between Casey and his once-professed defensive cog ran wilder than Hulkamania. In the off-season Johnson was traded to the Sacramento Kings. For a second-round pick. His tenure in Sacramento wasn’t successful, either.
Johnson returns to Toronto ready to put the past behind him. He’s coming off a really strong season with the Memphis Grizzlies in which he played a similar role to the one he’s expected to assume this year with the Raptors.
He’ll play around 20 minutes a game, depending on the matchups, and should provide Casey with a defensive edge and level of athleticism off the bench that the coach didn’t have last season. His ability to guard multiple positions is another huge asset, and he’ll prove to be a valuable chess piece because of it.
Given how things turned out last time around, expectations around Johnson are a little low. Don’t be surprised when he surpasses them.
2013–14 Stats (with Memphis): 7.4 Pts/G, 3.2 Reb/G, 2.1 Ast/G, 1.1 Blk/G, 46.4 FG%, 18.4 Min/G