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James Johnson Watch Week 14: On embracing a role, even just a background character

A quiet week for James Johnson, even as the Raptors continue their incredible winning streak.

Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

How often, really, did you find yourself thinking about the career of Abe Vigoda? Here was a man who lived to be 94 years old with, according to his IMDB page, a fitting 94 acting credits to his name. You can probably remember a couple of them (Tessio, or Fish, or maybe just his Conan O'Brien cameos). Despite this, he was never a star in the truest sense. He was a capital-C Character actor, a guy with a face and a voice and a presence that could only ever really exist in the margins. He got work for over 60 years.

So it goes with James Johnson. Like Vigoda, he's singular. Johnson has a skill set that can be used in various ways, in combination with various other players, and yet, what makes him him is ineffable. His physical dimensions and back story mark him as different. What's more, like Vigoda (who was pronounced dead twice in the 80s), Johnson seems to keep finding ways to come back too. He was in the league, then out, shipped from team to team, and now, next year, he'll most certainly become a free agent again. He may be a steal for someone (though probably not the Raptors). Johnson won't get work for 60 years, but in the history of the NBA, he'll be a character you remember.

Did James Johnson Play?

Due to another accounting error on my part, Johnson hit the under this week. He played in a total of approximately 57 minutes, but I counted today's game against the Knicks in the high 70.5 line. He would have presumably gone over that, so let's just call this week a wash. If you picked the over based on four games, you win. If you picked the under recognizing I have no idea what I'm doing, you win.

In the meantime, Johnson put in a mere 12 points this week, on 5-of-15 shooting (this after he went 2-of-4 from three against Miami), to go along with six assists, six rebounds and three blocks. He's involved with the Raptors, but not noisily so. Still, it definitely helps to have Johnson on hand to plug into the starting line-up. He's properly utilized.

Game Highlight

This next clip isn't necessarily the best work Johnson's ever done, but it does hint at his fearsome skill. On Tuesday, against Washington, Johnson put the moves on Otto Porter (legit Raptor terrorizer and one of the architects of last year's playoff demise) for a cool two points. Let's watch:

These were Johnson's only two points in a game the Raptors would end up handily winning 106-89. It is somehow a small moment, symbolizing nothing, and also, to me and the skewed JJ-centric world view of this space, an indication of the things to come.

Prediction for the Week

Let me triple-check my math on this. Knicks tonight, Pistons on Saturday, Nuggets on Monday, Suns on Tuesday. That's fo', fo', fo' games this week. Presumably Johnson gets the role of a lifetime tonight in attempting to slow Carmelo Anthony. That should be fun to watch. The Pistons, to my mind, offer little resistance. The Nuggets present a fun opportunity for Johnson to go at Gallinari, and the Suns, well, they are adorable.

Over/Under Minutes: 68.5

I'm putting the line at the appropriate spot this time. This one feels right. Let's hear your predictions.