Portland’s in the championship game of the Las Vegas NBA Summer League on Monday night against Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers.
That means former Arizona defensive whiz Nick Johnson might match up against the Lakers’ rookie phenom.
When Johnson was wrapping up his three-year Arizona career in 2013-14, Ball was a sophomore in high school.
Johnson, the 2014 Pac-12 Player of the Year, will play against two former Arizona players coaching the Lakers’ summer league team (Jud Buechler and Miles Simon) and former teammate Gabe York.
These are Johnson’s stats in Las Vegas summer league games:
Johnson’s part of a Portland roster that includes former Pac-12 rivals Jorge Gutierrez of Cal and Josh Scott of Colorado.
Johnson and Gutierrez, who share the backcourt with the Blazers in Las Vegas, are former Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep players. The Las Vegas Review-Journal interviewed Gutierrez about his relationship with Johnson.
“Nick got there a year after me, but we had some battles when he was at Arizona and I was at Cal,” Gutierrez said. “He’s part of the Findlay family, so I know him well.”
Johnson had this to tweet about concerning his motivation to succeed in the summer league and beyond:
I survive because the fire inside me burns brighter than the the fire around me https://t.co/UBVnPgBpv4
Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW.com wrote this synopsis of Johnson this weekend:
A former Pac-12 player of the year and a first-team all-American from Arizona, he played 28 games for Houston during the 2014-15 season after being a second-round pick of the Rockets. Played in the G-League before heading overseas for a job playing for Bayern Munich in the German league, averaging 8.1 points per game while shooting just 33.5 percent from the field. Against Toronto, the guard took over the game for a spell in the third quarter and finished with 17 points, hitting six of his nine shots from the floor. He’s a hard-nosed player who is here playing for a job, be it in Europe or the NBA.
The following are some social media reactions of Johnson’s play in the summer league:
Nick Johnson's shooting kept Portland in the game with Swanigan and Layman out due to foul trouble. With both back in, Blazers go up 79-71.
We will all remember the night Nick Johnson took over the game for the Trail Blazers.
Always heard about the things Nick Johnson couldn’t do — but he’s done a lot of good things for the Blazers in SL
Video highlights of Johnson in the summer league:
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.