By Drew Packham, NBA.com
LAS VEGAS — Two summers ago, Wes Johnson entered Summer League as one of the players to watch.
He had just been drafted fourth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves after three seasons at Syracuse. His expectations were high, and so were the team’s.
Then, he tweaked his hamstring in the Wolves’ first game, ending his first Summer League before it could get going.
“I was frustrated,” Johnson said. “Not even one full game, so yeah, I really wanted to come out here.”
Two years later, though, things have changed and the 6-foot-7 swingman is here with much different expectations and goals. After two less-than-stellar seasons in Minnesota, Johnson is trying to get back to what made him successful at Syracuse and hoping to prove he wasn’t a wasted pick.
“I’m just trying to be assertive,” said Johnson, who scored 28 points while hitting five 3-pointers Saturday in the Wolves’ 86-78 win over the D-League Select team. “I just need to relax and go out there and play basketball.”
So far, Johnson has looked confident shooting the ball, averaging 22.7 points (fourth in Las Vegas) on 47.9 shooting through three games. Those numbers are a far cry from what Johnson’s done in Minnesota. After averaging 9.0 points his rookie season, Johnson averaged 6.0 points and has done it on 39.8 percent shooting both seasons.
Johnson says playing with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio opens up opportunities for him and last year’s No. 2 pick Derrick Williams, shots he’s still confident taking.
“It’s just me thinking too much,” Johnson said, still smiling. “I was overthinking things. I just need to relax and play basketball the way I know how. I don’t think I’ve lost anything.”
If he can play like he has here, he may be right.