Posts Tagged ‘Wes Johnson’

Las Vegas Summer League: Day 9 Recap

By Drew Packham,

LAS VEGAS — The last full day of seven games featured several returning players putting up big numbers.

Phoenix’s Markieff Morris wrapped up his solid showing, putting up 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Suns to a 96-87 win over the Grizzlies. Morris was 10-for-17 from the floor, hit a pair of 3s and looked like the best player on the floor, impressive considering Josh Selby did his thing again for the Grizzlies, scoring 23 points to maintain his scoring lead (27.5 ppg) over Damian Lillard (26.5 ppg).

Non-rookie of the day: Malcolm Thomas, Bulls. For the fourth straight game, the SDSU big man dominated the boards, pulling down 16 to go with 21 points in Chicago’s 77-74 win over the Clippers. Thomas is opening eyes in Vegas and should find himself on a roster this fall after spending most of last season bouncing around the D-League.

Other notables: Wes Johnson, Wolves. Minnesota’s swingman is looking confident with his shot and scored 28 points Saturday to increase his scoring average to 22.7 (fourth overall). “I just need to relax and play basketball the way I know how,” Johnson said. “I don’t think I’ve lost anything.” Jimmy Butler, Bulls. The second-year guard out of Marquette scored 23 points on 6-for-10 shooting. In four games, Butler has topped 20 points three times and is sixth overall in scoring at 20.8 points to go with 6.5 boards. His role could increase this season, so Chicago fans must love seeing these numbers.

Rookie of the day: Will Barton, Trail Blazers. Portland’s second-round pick (40th overall) has been overshadowed by the team’s two lottery picks (Lillard and Meyers Leonard) but has quietly been doing a little bit of everything. Saturday, though, with the Blazers resting their top players, Barton played all 40 minutes, scoring 27 points on 10-for-17 shooting. “I’m a role player, but when I get the opportunity to be the man, I take it,” Barton said.

Other notables: Jae Crowder, Mavericks. Crowder closed out his impressive showing with 21 points and six rebounds in Dallas’ 82-76 overtime win over San Antonio. Crowder, a second-round pick (34th overall) out of Marquette, finished with five-game averages of 16.6 points and 5.4 rebounds. Crowder could be a steal out of the second round. Kendall Marshall, Suns. The point guard taken 13th overall has looked terrible here, but closed out with his best game yet, scoring 15 points (on 6-for-10 shooting, 3-for-4 on 3s) and handing out 10 assists, giving him the overall lead in assists at 6.5 per game. Also, John Henson had another good game for the Bucks (22 and nine) in an 88-87 win over Boston.

Coming up: Summer League comes to an end Sunday with just three games on the slate. Two games will air live on NBA TV — Celtics-Clippers at 6 ET and Grizzlies-Wolves at 8 ET — while the Bulls-Bucks game will be shown on replay at 4 a.m. ET. The All-Summer League teams will be announced at the end of the day.

Wolves’ Johnson Trying to Get Groove Back

By Drew Packham,

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.

Arrested Development?


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — John Wall is struggling.

Maybe you’ve heard.

In addition to his shooting issues, he was taken to the shed Wednesday night in Chicago, not by Derrick Rose but John Lucas III, who had  25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. No offense to JL3, but this was a new low for Wall, the former No. 1 pick who came into the league with “star” stamped on his forehead.

If it’s any consolation to Wall, he isn’t alone. A few other young-uns are finding it rough as they try to take that next step to being established and bona fide stars. And why is this? Maybe they played too many summer league games during the lockout.

Maybe they were overhyped.

Or maybe they just need time.

Whatever, here’s a sampling:

— DeMar DeRozan, 22 years old: Double D is shooting 41 percent and had three straight games where he didn’t get double figures. The Raptors were hoping he’d be at least a borderline All-Star this year, and he might still break out. But it’s coming very slowly at the moment for a guy with obvious skills. Here’s DeRozan on his issues, courtesy of Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun:

“I just got to play better,” DeRozan said after an 11 point game that saw him hit just one of his first 10 field goal attempts.

“I take a lot of the (blame) when we’re not doing as well because I got to step up and start being consistent on both ends of the floor.”


The Awkward Handshake

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — You ever wonder what goes into the strange free throw ritual of tapping the hand of every single teammate after a shot?

We did (sorry, but we ponder things like this in our down time between games).

And thanks to our friends at, we’ll solve at least one of those mysteries. Our good friend Jonah Ballow and his crew have gone CSI Minneapolis on us and launched a full-blown investigation into the awkward free throw handshake used by rebound-machine Kevin Love and rookie Wes Johnson.

The Ultimate Hype Man


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Give David Kahn his credit for keeping things interesting in Minnesota.

A day after the Timberwolves took out a full-page ad in the Star Tribune admitting that, surprise, they are not likely to contend for the NBA title this season, Kahn drops an even bigger bombshell.

In a detailed letter to Timberwolves’ fans (season ticket holders), he’s touting a “singular” move that will be made to complete his roster transformation and, we’re assuming, set the franchise on a championship path.

Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune offers up some insights on what exactly this singular move could be, tossing around names like Carmelo Anthony (with the Timberwolves as potentially the third-party in a blockbuster, three-team deal) and even Josh Smith and Joe Johnson.

Of course, Kahn can’t mention specifics — he’s already been fined once this summer for saying too much. But you already know that no one does the hype man routine better than Kahn (remember that summer league gem, above). And he certainly cranks up the hype machine with this letter that you have to read to believe.

Here’s a snippet:

During the last 14 months, we have added several pieces to our ballclub:  perimeter shooting, athleticism and length to the roster, and all while maintaining our youth.  Just as important, we have done so with an eye toward adding more talent by choosing to operate under the salary cap.

The reality is, we are still lacking a dominant player – our version of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade or Kevin Durant – and that will remain an item at the top of the To-Do list.

It’s possible this player could emerge from within the roster.  Nearly every player on our team has his best days ahead of him.   Some could make an All-Star team during their careers and one has already become an impact player on the USA Men’s National Team in this year’s FIBA World Championships.  We also have eight players currently on the roster who were selected in the top-seven of their respective drafts:  Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, Wes Johnson, Jonny Flynn, Darko Milicic, Corey Brewer, Martell Webster and Ricky Rubio.

The average age of those eight players is 22.

However, if one of our players fails to emerge, we will be prepared to find more talent for our team – and we will seek a singular move rather than a series of moves, as we did these last 14 months.

Love him or hate him, you can’t deny him.

Kahn is the ultimate hype man!