Arizona Basketball

Johnson’s G-League Finals MVP honor indicates staying power

Nick Johnson’s G-League Finals MVP tonight at age 25, four seasons removed from his last at Arizona, indicates the guard should have a lengthy pro career ahead of him.

That could mean another shot at the NBA, a level in the pro ranks he has not experienced since his rookie season with Houston in 2014-15.

The word among scouts and NBA personnel as to why Johnson has not returned to the NBA since is that he does not have high-level point guard skills at 6’3″ and his perimeter shooting does not make him an everyday shooting guard. He is a solid defender but the NBA is built on scorers first and foremost.

Johnson’s performance during the G-League playoffs as the sixth man for Austin indicates he has, at the very least, promise to contribute to an NBA franchise.

Johnson scored 17 points, including a thunderous alley-oop dunk in the fourth quarter of the 98-76 win over the host Raptors 905.

Up 88-66 with over five minutes to play, Julian Washburn blocked a shot, sending Olivier Hanlan and Johnson on a fast break. Hanlan’s alley-oop pass was perfect as Johnson’s left-handed jam put an exclamation point on the game.

Johnson’s athleticism alone should make an NBA owner and general manager realize he can be a popular draw for fans. His numbers back up the fact that he has substance to go with that style.

In Austin’s four games in the G-League playoffs, Johnson averaged 15.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Most impressive: He made 66.7 percent (12 of 18) of his 3-point attempts. He made 5 of 6 from beyond the arc tonight, answering the critics concerning his perimeter game.

After playing with Austin in 2015-16, Johnson played in Germany last season, helping Bayern Munich to a playoff appearance with a 33-8 record.

Another constant with Johnson: He’s on winning teams going back to his youth basketball days, making him a constant winner.

We will be reading about Johnson and watching and hearing about his exploits for quite some time.

An NBA front-office executive must be taking note.

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