Chicago picked him up with the 16th overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft, but he's had a very hard time cracking the rotation of either of his coaches since he entered the league.
In 78 games with the Bulls, Johnson averaged 3.8 points and 1.9 rebounds a game. On the surface, those numbers may look very weak, but he was actually pretty productive in the time he was given.
He actually averaged over 12 points and six rebounds per 36 minutes of game time, while shooting 45 percent from the field.
The problem is, James committed fouls at an extremely high rate. When he managed to stay out of foul trouble, he was actually quite good on defense.
He was also a great teammate in Chicago, as evidenced by quotes from his teammates following the trade.
Joakim Noah said, "It stinks, I consider J.J. a little brother. But he wasn't playing a lot, and I wish him nothing but the best. And I hope that he gets an opportunity to get out there on the court and show what kind of player he is."
All-Star point guard and MVP candidate Derrick Rose added, "J.J. is a good player, a good young player. Didn't have enough time to play with us because of who we have on our team, just didn't have enough time. I think that he's going to be a good player in this league."
Finally, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said, "I hope he gets an opportunity to play. He did a good job with us; professional every day, and this is a young team and he'll have an opportunity."
An opportunity is all Johnson wants. He'd like to get better, but that was hard for him in Chicago. Of his time there, Johnson said, "These last two years I was not playing as much and it's hard to develop when you're sitting down."
In his first game with the Toronto Raptors, he started and scored nine points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked three shots. He did all that with just four field-goal attempts in 26 minutes.
If he can find a way to consistently stay out of foul trouble, he could be an impact player in Toronto. He has the talent, and on that roster he should get the opportunity to develop it on the floor.
There was a reason he was drafted in the middle of the first round. Johnson has talent, it's just that it was typically buried at the bottom of Chicago's depth chart.
Can James Johnson Be An Impact Player in Toronto?
When he played for Wake Forest, he was one of the most versatile and effective players in the ACC. In two seasons, he averaged 8.3 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 1.4 blocks and 14.8 points per game while shooting 52 percent.
His scoring is particularly impressive when you consider the fact that he played with a point guard in Jeff Teague, who almost never passed the ball.
There's no doubt the ability and potential is there with James Johnson. He simply needs an opportunity to gain some confidence and display that ability. He should get that chance with the Toronto Raptors.
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