There is, as you know, something of a disconnect between reality and fantasy. In sports, this is acutely felt in the competition between fantasy leagues and those of actual real life. If you're playing fantasy basketball (as I do, poorly), you'll often find yourself rooting for a player to go off even if it's against your favourite team. You'll find yourself saying things like, "I want the Knicks to lose, but I'd love for Carmelo to get buckets." It's a terrible modern conundrum, a moral mess we've created for ourselves.
So it goes too for the James Johnson Watch. Two weeks into the season, it was clear Johnson was destined to be the lightly used tenth man on a team with a fairly solid nine-man rotation. He'd see action in specific cases, get some garbage time minutes, but that'd be it. It was a sad state of affairs.
But things have now turned: with DeMarre Carroll and Terrence Ross injured, Johnson has been pushed into heavily active duty; he's starting games now. It's been a real boon for the Watch, but, um, the Raptors are 1-3 over the past week. Reality bites sometimes.
Did James Johnson Play?
Did he ever! After a DNP-CD against the Magic, Johnson started the next three games, averaging 28.4 minutes, 7.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists (to go with three steals, four blocks and six turnovers), while shooting an even 50 percent from the field and a robust (for him) 33.3 percent from three (on three attempts).
All of the good and bad versions of Johnson have shown up. At times he's run the floor under control, made sharp decisions, gotten to the rim with ease, and played stout one-on-one defense. (I think we can agree that without him against the Knicks, Melo could have gone for 90.) He also got lost in the team's defensive system and disappeared for stretches. And then there are those painful moments when the ball swings out to Johnson on the perimeter and the open three is there, and Johnson just knows he can't take it. It's a split second beat, but it's basically defined the reality of Johnson's career. What a bummer. (Unless you took the over for minutes, then it was a huge win!)
Since trying to find Vine/Youtube clips of recent Johnson highlights is a fool's errand (and I have no idea how to make my own), I will instead rely on Twitter to tell the story of the week.
And so I present: The Tale of James Johnson's Week, a story in four tweets.
Good stretch of mins for Raps Johnson.— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) November 8, 2015
aww. James Johnson with a shout out to assistant coach Jama (and his new baby!) + training staff for helping to keep him ready. really nice.
— Holly MacKenzie (@stackmack) November 9, 2015
Called for a questionable moving screen late, James Johnson repeated to first-year NBA ref Tyler Ford, "you're a Melo fan," about 5-6 times.— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) November 11, 2015
James Johnson dishing off in the paint so Bismack Biyombo can shoot an 8-foot baseline jumper is not optimum use of personnel— Doug Smith: Raptors (@SmithRaps) November 12, 2015
(Or, alternatively, help a brother out and find Johnson's dynamite dunk on the Heat's Tyler Johnson from last Saturday. That was a good one.)
Prediction for the Week
Considering that Ross is for sure out for at least two weeks, and Carroll may opt to rest for at least a game or two (against the imploding Pelicans, and soap opera Kings), Johnson could see a couple more starts this week. What a time to be alive.
If I'm Dwane Casey, I take my chances going with Johnson in those aforementioned games. Johnson can do his work on whatever small or power forward the Pelicans have left, and certainly badger Rudy Gay effectively. For the Warriors, it won't make a lick of difference who plays. The question mark is the Jazz--second night of a back-to-back, a beaten down Raptors squad, hope dwindling. Will Carroll be back at all this week? Will the fantasy run of James Johnson continue or will reality beckon?
Over/Under Minutes: 63.5
We're gambling huge this week. Are you ready to do the same?
We'll see you next week.