Are LA Lakers Fans Expecting Too Much from Wesley Johnson and Nick Young?
A team doesn't lose the NBA's top rebounder and one of the league's top defensive players and get better, and while free-agent acquisitions Nick Young and Wesley Johnson do upgrade the Lakers' athleticism, does either player really make them better?
That might be a stretch.
Both Young and Johnson have skill sets that are distinctly suited for head coach Mike D'Antoni's offense, but to be honest that statement is only supported by each player's reputation as a three-point shooter.
Johnson and Young may be wonderful athletes, but unfortunately the depth of each player's game is confined by his ability to drain shots from beyond the three-point arc, and in Johnson's case I'm not even sure if the reputation is warranted.
Johnson was a pretty good three-point shooter at Syracuse, but he also displayed enough other skills like ball-handling, quickness and defensive potential to make analysts and fans think he could be good, or very good, as a pro.
So far Johnson has been neither. In fact you could argue that he's actually been pretty bad.
During Johnson's first three seasons, he averaged 7.7 points per game and shot 40 percent from the field and 33 percent from the three-point line.
So, there is nothing in Johnson's past as a pro that suggests he can be a consistent or efficient scorer, which may be a good thing, since general manager Mitch Kupchak envisions Johnson as a Trevor Ariza, Michael Cooper type of player anyway.
Comparing Johnson to Cooper borders on disrespectful, and even though Ariza may be in reach, what I've seen from Johnson says that he's still a long way out from even that point.
Cooper may have been the greatest defensive guard in Lakers history, and while Ariza was never at that level, he was much more productive during his short stint with the Lakers than Johnson has ever been at any point in his career.
Johnson believes he can be a lockdown perimeter player for the Lakers? Show me the evidence that would lead you to that conclusion.
Mr. Young is another matter since, unlike Johnson, he has proved he can be a dynamic scorer at times. The only thing is that Young may have reached his ceiling as a player or that he has no desire to go higher.
Young has never shot better than 44 percent from the field, but he is a 37-percent career three-point shooter, and his game has a flair for the dramatic that is definitely suited for Hollywood.
If the Lakers need a shot, I have no doubt that Young will take it. And when the Lakers don't need a shot, Young will take it anyway.
Young has the talent to be a great player on both ends of the court for the Lakers, but his talent has never translated to much consistency in his game, and Young's tendency to make boneheaded plays may be one of the reasons he has played for four teams in seven years.
The Lakers need a player who can provide consistent perimeter scoring and reliable defense in Kobe Bryant's absence, but does either Young or Johnson fit the bill?
I also believe that the Lakers can be a lot better than people think they can next season, but that belief is contingent on a resurgent Pau Gasol and a healthy Steve Nash.
And hopefully an earlier-than-expected return for Bryant.
I expect Johnson and Young to produce for sure, but not on a level that would make anyone forget Howard, and it's doubtful that either player can make a big-enough impact to determine whether or not the Lakers make the playoffs.
Johnson and Young, along with Jordan Farmar, will definitely make the Lakers a more exciting team and just maybe a more explosive offensive team.
But does that mean they will be better?
Nothing in Johnson or Young's past suggests there will be major developmental steps forward in their games, and maybe Lakers fans should take a glance at what they have done so far to gauge where they're going.
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