We have another D-League call-up!
The Grizzlies say they signed forward James Johnson of the NBA Development League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) December 16, 2013
For a look at his 2013-2014 production in the D-League as a member of the Rio Grande franchise, we turn to the official release of his signing from the Grizzlies.
Johnson (6-9, 245) joins the Grizzlies after averaging 18.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.90 steals and 3.40 blocks on .496 shooting in 29.9 minutes in 10 games (all starts) for Rio Grande Valley this season. The 26-year-old is the only D-League player this season to rank in the top 15 in scoring (14th), rebounding (12th) and assists (14th) by average. He also places third in the D-League in blocks per game and is tied for seventh in steals per game.
I wouldn’t certainly stop short of putting too much stock in the D-League numbers (although they are impressive), and pump the brakes a bit on Johnson’s acquisition. The 26-year-old forward was a late cut by the Atlanta Hawks in the preseason (they famously went with Cartier Martin in his place), but Johnson has appeared in NBA games in 4 straight seasons with some reasonable success.
In 219 games with the Bulls, Raptors, and Kings, Johnson has averaged more than 6 points per game in 18 minutes, but the offensive end of the court has been the challenge for the former lottery pick. He isn’t an outside shooter at all (career 3-point output of 27.3%), and that is a sticking point in the wide-open NBA. However, the Grizzlies have famously ignored the 3-point line (Tony Allen, for instance) and Johnson’s lengthy frame has made him an above-average defender at times.
This is probably just a pure depth pick-up for the Grizzlies, but in my view, Johnson is too talented to be without an NBA job.