The Lakers had to do a patch-job after Dwight Howard left this past summer, and Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak filled the roster with guys on one year deals. One of those guys was Wesley Johnson, and he came to Los Angeles with a lot to prove.
Johnson was drafted fourth overall in the 2010 draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he never panned out. He signed with Phoenix last season, and he once again had a sub-par season. Now, with Los Angeles, he has no expectations, and his role has increased. He was viewed as a “3 and D” guy who couldn’t shoot or defend well, but he is doing both now. Johnson is scoring and rebounding about the same as he always has, but he is shooting 42 percent from the field, and 40 percent from beyond the arc–which are both career highs. He is also defending better overall.
So, does he want to stay in LA beyond this season? My friend Lang Greene asked him about his impending free agency for HOOPSWORLD:
“D’Antoni talked to me before the season started about what he needed from me,” Johnson told HOOPSWORLD. “He told me to just worry about playing basketball. He said if you play aggressive and play hard you can pretty much do what you want out there as long as you play hard. So I definitely feel a lot more comfortable out there than I have the last few years.”
“This is definitely a place I want to be,” Johnson said on his upcoming free agency. “I love Los Angeles. I love the organization. I love the people that I’ve been around since I’ve been there. I definitely think this could be a long term thing. We just have to wait and see.”
Johnson is a guy who seems to be more comfortable in this offense, and he is giving full effort every night. Mike D’Antoni has played him as a power forward for a good chunk of his minutes, and that has helped him as well. The Lakers will be looking to build through free agency in 2014 and 2015, so Johnson will likely have to take around three or four million dollars a year if he wants to stay.
This has been a nice season for Johnson, and he joins Jordan Hill and Xavier Henry as another lottery pick who is trying to find his niche with the Lakers.