Like all professional athletes, James Johnson has a relationship to the media apparatus. In his day-to-day life, the concept of "the media", outside of the stuff he presumably watches, reads and hears, is literally personified by a bunch of folks who want to endlessly ask him questions. Sometimes -- I'm quite positive of this -- Johnson is guarded with his answers, not lying per se, but not as open as he could be. Hey, that's his prerogative.
And yet, the media, this gaggle of men and women popping up everywhere Johnson laces his shoes, keep asking, asking, asking him anyway.
I am not a sports reporter by trade. In the locker room, I mostly just stand there with a recorder and a serious look on my face, hoping no one finds this out. It can be a weird thing to stand with this group of professionals trying to do their jobs on a deadline. I'm in awe of the ability and talent on display night after night; these people are good.
So, it's weirder still to stand further back and consider the whims of the media marketplace in which they work, the confluence of events that can lead one conglomerate to merge with another and then downsize into a new result. There are a lot of big picture things in play here. But, on a granular level, it means guys like Eric Koreen are suddenly not one of the faces in the media crowd trying to ask questions of Johnson and other athletes. I can't coherently comment on any of those larger issues, but I can confidently say: This kind of outcome sucks.
I don't know if Johnson will notice this, or any, difference in his personal media landscape. He's got no real reason to care about what Canadian media companies choose to do. But he, like other athletes, will still be asked questions. Game after game, practice after practice, he'll still find himself staring down into these faces who will continue to search for some kind of truth.
Did James Johnson Play?
This one was very close to call. Johnson played in just over 55 minutes this past week. I set the line at 57.5. So, who among you took the under? If you did, give yourself a pat on the back.
It was a fairly productive week for Johnson. He potted 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting (which is an uncharacteristic sub-.500 shooting percentage for JJ), while snagging four assists, four rebounds, two steals, and one block. He also was responsible for this:
That was first time James Johnson has hit 2 threes in game as a Raptor in 2 stints (6th time in career). Also, Patterson 8-15 on 3s past 3— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) January 19, 2016
That is a long time to go between multi-three games. And:
Another reason for the James Johnson truthers to love him: Looks for Valanciunas three times more than any other Raptor.— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) January 21, 2016
As something of a Johnson truther myself, this feels true (even without actual stats to back it up). Coach Dwane Casey himself said Johnson is one of the best passers on the team, that he may in fact see the floor too well. (Which sort of implies that Johnson's eyes may be bigger than his stomach, basketball-wise.) Anyway, Johnson hit Valanciunas on a couple of beautiful pick-and-roll plays last night against Boston, the likes of which we rarely ever see DeRozan or Lowry complete.
If nothing else, it's nice to know the Raptors have the option.
This is too good to not include: A Euro-step... in Europe!
James Johnson hits the euro-step in transition on @NBATV! #NBARapidReplay #NBALondon16 https://t.co/6w9cfEGqqv— NBA (@NBA) January 14, 2016
This it top-notch work, James. Jolly good.
On that jolly note: Have a read of Blake Murphy's Raptors mailbag where he tries (in vain) to outline how he'll beat me in a one-on-one game. Spoiler alert: This will not go well for him.
Prediction for the Week
Four games this week, all at home, against a real panoply of NBA talent. First, tomorrow, the Raptors take on the listing ship known as the S.S. Miami Heat. Then, they welcome the Clippers, who they've beaten three times in a row in one embarrassing fashion after another. On Tuesday, the season sweep of the Wizards is in play. And finally, vengeance against the Knicks, Melo and the Zinger.
The Raptors are currently riding a season-high six game win streak and are playing some of the best ball they've ever played as a unit. DeRozan and Lowry are undisputed All-Stars, Valanciunas is rounding into form, and the stay woke bench is, well, woke. Johnson, in his way, has become a binding force for all of this. He clocks in his 18-20 minutes, makes sound plays (relatively speaking) and then, a job well done, clocks out.
Keep plugging away, man.
Over/Under Minutes: 70.5
Four games and more starter minutes for Johnson. The line, as expected, moves up accordingly.
Let's see how things play out.