Now it is time to take a look at the other potential Kings pick in this draft; one Wesley Johnson from Syracuse. How does he fit into this system as a small forward if the Kings are already trying to develop Omri Casspi? Well, lets find out.
As I mentioned before, the least productive spot on the Kings' roster this season was the small forward position. So, before we get to Johnson, lets analyze how Omri and Donte Greene will fit into the equation. A small forward is the most productive position in a starting lineup because that player must be able to shoot, crash the boards, play defense, and pass the ball; essentially a mix of Power Forward and Shooting Guard. So, who should get the starting small forward position? Thankfully, Johnson can play SG so this is between Casspi and Greene. Greene had a slight marginal edge in terms of three point fg% and that is pretty much it; Greene is 6'11 226 but Casspi is 6'9 and 225. This makes Casspi better built for playing the small forward position and he played fairly well considering he came of the bench. With Casspi starting he can develop at a higher rate and prove himself to Petrie and Coach Westphal that he is of Marion-lite. In addition, Having Greene come of the bench is the ideal place for him to grow and show that he is worthy of the minutes he is receiving. If worst comes to worst, Casspi develops into a glue guy that is 100% pure hustle, but that negativity isn't warranted; on to the bright side of drafting Wes Johnson.
First, here are some of the team's productivity from the small forward position: Their ranks for NBA production at the small forward position was very middling coming in at 19th, and in defending the oppositions small forward they came in at 20th. Again not horrible but certainly not good. Being so, by giving Casspi that starting position will add to his level of confidence it will allowing him to develop at a higher pace then coming off the bench, but the catch here is having Johnson play the two position. There are two things I like about having Johnson play the two position. The first thing that I like about this is the spacing that is created by adding a legit three point threat and Tyreke Evans whose jumpshot improved considerably during the course of the season. With Hawes there would be more spacing and a higher level of reliance on jumpshots, but with Samuel Dalambert, the spacing is still there, but there is now an official threat in the post/paint.Adding Dalambert makes things a lot more interesting as not only does the team get better in the post, but their rebounding woes increases as well. Still, just one player being able to score a couple of points in the paint wont make you a sure-fire powerhouse in the league, but it expands the possibilities. Sacramento was10th overall in rebounds and were in a three-way tie for a sexy third place in offensive rebounds. If Johnson is drafted, this would open up the lanes for thompson and Dalambert as Johnson is a threat from nearly anywhere on the court and even when the jumpshots aren't falling the Kings could rely on their offensive rebounding prowess for second chance points. Though, there is a problem in all of this and that is the Kings do an average job in secoring defensive boards. Luckily enough, this shouldnt be a problem as all Dalambert, Casspi, Johnson, and Evans can help out; each of them are terrific rebounders, including Evans and Johnson when considering their size.
Better securing defensive rebounds can also formulate into fast break points and better defense. The defense gets better because a defensive set is executed better when done once and with a young, mobile team like the Kings, the players can leak out once the rebound is secured and can score easier when the other team's defense is not properly set. Johnson's addition would undoubtedly have a higher impact on the offensive end and the addition of Dalambert will obviously have a higher impact defensively. With that said, you could be looking at a perennial top 5 offensive team coupled with an average defensive team; there have been a few teams that fit this mold especially, such as the Suns for most of this decade and the early 2000 Sacramento Kings. Surely we know how successful a system like this has been/is. This season the Kings were 20th in the league in terms of defense. On a little side note, don't you find it a little bit sad that the Kings have the second worst attendance rate in the league? Behind an even smaller market in Charlotte? They say that defense wins championships but I have seen two teams in particular come very close to making it to the finals with a very likely chance of winning it all in the same year, but "mishaps" caused these two teams to fall short in the end.
The other thing that I like about this is that it makes the team incredibly tall. In Tyreke Evans you would have a 6'6 point guard when the average height of a point guard ranges from 6'1-6'3ish; with the occasional 6'0 and 6'4/6'5 guy. This gives Tyreke the ability is A) See over the top of the defense when making a pass. This is important for Tyreke in making on-the-mark passes for easy shots at the rim. With Dalambert and Thompson in the paint there could be many lob opportunities. And B) Shoot over the top of the defender(s) as well. Being able to shot over the top of defenders makes it easier for him to drive and disrupt the defense because they would have to collapse on him. This would create many opportunities for everybody on the team. Evans and Landry made up for most of Sacramento's fga's at the basket and being able to draw the double team opens the lanes; more opportunities at the rim and open jumpshots, especially from dive and kick attempts. Johnson's height is 6'7 making for another mismatch; as sg's range from anywhere between 6'4-6'6. Rarely do you see a player whose natural position is the small forward and can play the small forward position as well, I mean could you imagine Lebron 6'8, Gerald Wallace 6'7, Grant Hill 6'8, playing shooting guard? For Johnson, this is very important because he wasn't the best player at creating his own shot; rather he was more of a jumpshot, and didn't attack the basket very often. This can change if he is taller than the player guarding him as it could potentially be easier for him to drive. In college, when he was making his shots he would disappear for long stretches and never really got into a dominating mode, but when you have a talent like Tyreke Evans on your team, the ball will find you; whether it be in the paint or for a wide open three.
With Johnson's athletic ability not only will he be able to help out on the boards I think he can serve as a good defender. He reminds me a lot of Shawn Marion mixed in with a JRich type kind of game. His shot extends to the three, he is super athletic, and rebounds fairly well. With Dalambert able to provide some good post defense, the other fact that the Kings need to improve in is offense, and as i said before, Johnson is sure to bring about a better offense.In addition, the Kings came in 15th for three point shooting. So, obviously that needs some tuning as Johnson shot 38% from three last season in college. Also, Johnson's game improved considerably over the course of the year as he was also able to make 50% of his shots from the field; which is a dead eyed percentage for a team that came 19th in FG%.
The last thing I want to talk about is Johnson's age. He is 22 years old because of that transfer he made; to me, that shows that he had a desire to expand his game before entering the NBA, and he was able to improve by leaps and bounds. Also, he looks very immature judging from his combine interview some of that has to do with age, but if you continue to work hard you can reach a higher ceiling. Refining your game each year and setting goals will allow a player to improve his game; besides the age where a person normally has their best season is 29, so Johnson has a long way to go. He is a player that seems that he can contribute immediately and in the long run.