Minnesota Timberwolves: Why Wesley Johnson's Progression Is Pivotal

Camden PaschAnalyst IIJuly 8, 2011

So far this offseason, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been active in terms of news headlines. From Ricky Rubio finally coming overseas to the 2011 NBA Draft and Derrick Williams, from Anthony Randolph's transition to the center position to Michael Beasley's recent drug citation, the Wolves have been a popular topic in the sports world.

Wesley Johnson seems to be the only Timberwolf staying out of the news. The reason for this could be because of his lackluster rookie season, or because he goes about his business in a professional manner and doesn't draw unneeded attention to himself.

Whatever the case may be, Johnson is going to be a pivotal player in Minnesota's future.

After being drafted fourth overall in the 2010 NBA Draft as a small forward out of Syracuse, Johnson was eventually converted to a shooting guard in his freshman year in the NBA. The move was one the team had to make in order to get Johnson a decent amount of playing time.

Johnson responded to the move well, and didn't complain about what he was asked to do, as many other players might have in the same situation. His numbers don't truly convey what he did for the Wolves, as he scored just nine points per game but was one of the better defenders the Wolves had on the team.

He will likely be the starting shooting guard for Minnesota in his sophomore season, and it's important that he continues to grow into that position.

PHOENIX - DECEMBER 15:  Wesley Johnson #4 of the Minnesota Timberwolves drives to the basket over Grant Hill #13 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on December 15, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Timberwolves 128-
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Helping him grow as a shooting guard is future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant. The two swapped contact information last summer and even worked out several times before Bryant had offseason surgery.

Since then, Bryant has been giving tips to Johnson on certain aspects of the game, and the two have established a mentor/student relationship. 

This offseason, Johnson has been working out with Beasley and Williams in Los Angeles, and it would seem that, at some time this summer, he will get in touch with Bryant. Johnson should learn everything he possibly can from Bryant, because if he does, then he is sure to improve as a player. 

Johnson will be paired with Rubio in the Timberwolves' backcourt, and the two will be more than solid defensively.

Offensively, though, Johnson needs to be able to catch and shoot more efficiently. Part of Rubio's game is driving the lane with the sole purpose of kicking it out to open shooters. This means that Johnson should get plenty of good looks at the basket, and he needs to be able to knock the shots down.

He shot a dismal 39.7 percent from the floor and 35.6 percent from the arc last season. Those stats have to increase for him to be a productive player for the Timberwolves.

Regardless of what happens with the Timberwolves' frontcourt positions, Johnson is responsible for improving as a shooting guard, and it's essential for Minnesota that he does.