Sacramento Kings

James Johnson Is the Perfect Addition for the Young, Athletic Sacramento Kings

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
Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2012

With their recent additions of James Johnson and Aaron Brooks, the Sacramento Kings have quietly had a very successful offseason.

Brooks is an upgrade at the point guard position. While Isaiah Thomas was surprisingly solid for the Kings in that capacity, Brooks is just a couple seasons removed from averaging 19.6 points and 5.3 assists a game while hitting 40 percent of his three-point attempts. 

When given the minutes, Brooks is a great scoring guard. For his career, he averages 18 points and 5.2 assists per 36 minutes. In Sacramento, he should get the minutes.

As for Johnson, from day one with the Kings, he'll be their best defender and could find a spot in the starting lineup for that and his elite athleticism.

Last season for the Toronto Raptors, Johnson led his team in both steals and blocks per game while playing just 25 minutes a game. It was typical to see him defending superstars like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony, as he was often called upon to slow down the opposition's best offensive player. 

Prior to trading for Johnson, the Kings did not have a player like that on their roster. For that reason, in combination with his versatility and athleticism, Johnson should get plenty of minutes in Sacramento.

His lightning quick hands and feet (a product of his kickboxing background) make him a very reliable defender on the perimeter, and his size (6'9" and 250 pounds) allows him to slide down and take on power forwards as well.

Johnson is no slouch on offense either. He averaged less than 10 points a game last year, but that had more to do with his role than any lack of ability to score. For Wake Forest, he averaged 15 points a game over two years and during his NBA career he's averaged 13 points per 36 minutes. 

Kings guards like Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans will remind Johnson of playing with ball-stopper Jeff Teague at Wake Forest. Because of their insatiable desire to shoot, Johnson may want to focus on attacking the offensive glass a bit more this year. That, in combination with his ability to run the floor and finish at the rim, should help Johnson claim some opportunities to score.

There's no telling what Keith Smart's lineup will look like right now, but his best bet would be Brooks, Evans, Johnson, Thomas Robinson and DeMarcus Cousins. 

That group would experience its share of growing pains this year, but they'd be a very explosive, exciting bunch to watch.

 

Follow Andrew Bailey on Twitter.

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