Wolves’ Johnson Trying to Get Groove Back

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.


  1. Tasketball101 says:

    Wes Johnson is long and athletic. That means he has a place in the nba. He should keep focusing on his defense and energy. Like a Corey Brewer doppelganger lol. Let the offense come along and just keep working at it. He should be a top perimeter defender in the league without a doubt and I believe that is where he’ll make his money.

  2. Steve says:

    Yeah, I think Wes Johnson will pick it up. Sometimes players try to do too much and it takes a little while to settle in and stop trying so hard to make things happen rather than letting the game just come to them.

  3. Drake says:

    Wes is a nice guy, but you know what they say about “nice” guys… Wes needs to drive the lane, rebound like a savage beast and stop playing a soft jump-shot game! Knock people down for rebounds, pay the price like Love does night after night. Be an NBA player!

  4. dattebayo says:

    Last season he was one of the inconsistent players hurting the T-Wolves more often than not. He took open shots from deep but shot a poor percentage. When he was going 0-3/4/5 he started driving to the rim but he couldn’t finish with authority and his layups were also inconsistent. Defensively he has the length and quickness to bother and guard wingplayers, but I wouldn’t consider him a stopper either. Adelman must have thought otherwise because Wes was starting throughout the year, maybe the injuries on the other players had a role in that as well.

    In transition and in called out set plays he was effective, especially when Rubio set him up for a dunk. Overall I have to say he was disappointing for a 4th 1st Round Pick. He needs to improve on defense and shooting the ball. If Batum would have landed in Minnesota, I doubt that Wes Johnson would even have played 15min per game in the upcoming season.

  5. Jonah says:

    Wes just isn’t that good. And he only played for Syracuse for 1 season, red-shirted 1 season, and before that was at Iowa State. But most people could see in Syracuse that his game wouldn’t translate to the NBA.

    That being said, I’m rooting for him and hope he can be a productive role player in the league for many years.

  6. rich says:

    When he is open and a team mate is open he has to take his shot. He is too much of a nice guy and needs to be a bit more selfish.

  7. Wes will be awesome this year.