Toronto Raptors: Could James Johnson Win Defensive Player of the Year?

Patrick YaghoobiansAnalyst IIDecember 29, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 04:  James Johnson #0 of the Raptors fends off Travis Outlaw #21 of the Nets during the NBA match between New Jersey Nets and the Toronto Raptors at the O2 Arena on March 4, 2011 in London, England. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Warren Little/Getty Images

We all know that James Johnson is a defensive specialist, and that his game revolves around defensive play.

Last season, when he was traded to the Raptors, his career was rejuvenated, and he even admitted to media that he wanted to change for the better in Toronto.

During the offseason, Johnson lost weight in fat and added muscle, as well as adding a midrange jumper. During these two regular season and two pre-season games, we saw that Johnson is capable of padding up the blocks and steals.

This season, Dwayne Casey has decided to start Rasual Butler over James Johnson at the small forward position, but Johnson is the one getting more minutes and being more productive.

Johnson could very well take over the starting job in a couple of games.

In the two regular season and two preseason games Johnson has played, he's averaged around two blocks and three steals per game, numbers which are very hard to come across.

It would be wrong to say that Johnson can average these kind of numbers throughout the entire season, but Johnson has the ability to average two steals and two blocks per game with ease.

His defensive mindset helps him know when to jump for a block, or when to reach his hand out and steal the ball.

The Defensive Player of the Year award has gone to Dwight Howard for three straight seasons, and there is a reason for it. Dwight is a great defender in the post, and is a great shot blocker.

It is possible that Johnson does not win over someone like Dwight Howard just because Dwight is known better around the league.

Not only does Johnson also rack up the blocks and steals, but he is a good rebounder and on-ball defender to add to his resume.

If Johnson does not win the title of Defensive Player of the Year, he has a very good chance to make either the All-NBA Defensive first or second teams if he can keep up the way he is playing.