Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network are ranking every NBA player — and counting them down on Twitter (@NBAonESPN), from number 500 to number 1. As the rankings are announced, you can also find them on ESPN.com. ESPN asked 104 experts to rate each player on a 0-10 scale.
The Houston Rockets got yet another player who could turn out to be a huge steal or just be another guy who had a great collegiate career, but didn’t do much professionally. The Rockets got JaJuan Johnson in a trade that sent Courtney Lee to the Boston Celtics. The Rockets organization has a love affair with forwards. They have almost 10 on the roster as of right now. Johnson will have to make a strong impression to find a roster spot, let alone any playing time. With that being said, he has the skills to do it.
Johnson is 6’10 with a lot of length, but he’s also just 221 pounds. If this guy can beef up to say 240-245 pounds I think he could backup the newly acquired Omer Asik. The Rockets finally have a big man after Yao Ming retired, but they still love to play small-ball and Johnson could benefit from that.
If you watch his highlights you can tell he played under Kevin Garnett. He learned a lot from him in his rookie season. He plays exactly like a poor man’s Garnett. He can post you up and do a turn-around jumper, blow passed you for an easy dunk, pull up from outside of the paint and knock down a jumper and he also plays some tenacious defense. I firmly believe this kid could average 2 blocks a game easily if he got the right amount of playing time to do so.
Johnson did average 8.1 rebounds a game with Purdue in his senior season in college, but he needs to improve that aspect of his game in the NBA. He averaged just 1.7 rebounds in 8 minutes a game in his only season in Boston. I understand it was his rookie season and he averaged only 8 minutes in the 36 games he played in, but that rebounding percentage is unacceptable.
He has the offensive game, the defensive game, the athletic ability and the heart to make a big impact for the Rockets. He just needs to bulk up and get in the gym with coach Kevin McHale and get schooled on how to rebound properly.