Grizzlies power forward James Johnson has been astounding for Memphis since getting called up from the D-League Rio Grande Valley Vipers in December. The former No. 16 pick by the Bulls in 2009 had floated around the fringes of the league since disappointing in Chicago, but he’s got the highest net rating for any Grizzlies player that’s logged more than 500 minutes. His putback dunk on the Blazers illustrates what an intriguing player he’s become for Memphis.
Johnson jumps past Victor Claver, Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge for a putback dunk that shows off some incredible reach and power to flush the ball with his left arm extended so far.
Johnson is sporting a very nice 19.1 PER in the 20 games he’s appeared in for the Grizzlies, and they’ve gone 13-7 in those games while climbing back into contention in the West. Johnson, who got a very nice profile by Danny Chau for The Triangle, even has a nickname, “Bloodsport” he wasn’t aware of until speaking with Chau:
According to James Johnson’s player page on Basketball-Reference.com, his nickname is Bloodsport. He was christened thus by NBA blogger Jared Wade nearly five years ago. Johnson wasn’t aware of the moniker until we talked over the phone. “That’s funny,” he said. “Yeah, I love it. You know, anything other than ‘scrub’ is cool with me.”
How can you not love an NBA player like that? You should really go read that entire profile because Johnson is a pretty incredible athlete and person.
The Grizz are now at 23-20 on the year and in the No. 9 position in the tougher conference. Marc Gasol‘s return from knee soreness has led to a 6-1 stretch in his first games back. Plus, they’ve got Bloodsport on their side, so we like their chances at playing into May.
What do you think of Johnson?
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