Blocking 3-pointers consistently is not an easy job, but James Johnson has to do it.
The most recent entrant into the Top Plays Theatre for his ability with the basketball, Johnson is even better on the other side. Since being called up from a D-League stint in late December, he has developed a habit of annoying the best shooters on the wings and in the corners. He is a good shot blocker inside the arc, but shooters aren’t any safer from deep.
VIDEO: James Johnson carves out his niche for the Grizzlies on the defensive perimeter
As Kevin Durant and James Harden found out multiple times, the 6-foot-9 Johnson has the activity level of a young Gerald Wallace (you don’t earn the nickname “Crash” for nothing) and Josh Smith, using any opportunity to terrorize whoever tries to launch from deep. When a shooter crouches to get in position, he takes it personal, using short powerful bursts and exquisite timing to close space fast.
He does this without fouling, which is perhaps the rub. Many players have the ability. A few have the willingness. But how many are skillful enough to keep pulling it off? James Johnson may not be a household moniker (outside of Memphis anyway), but you better believe that opposing coaches know who he is. The name may be plain, but the man has game.