Wesley Johnson Gets 1 Last Chance to Prove Himself

The tantalizing promise that accompanies draft-lottery picks will often earn them extra redemptive opportunities when greatness fails to materialize. But as successive disappointing seasons pass, those chances become increasingly tenuous, and certainly, more warily observed.

Wesley Johnson finds himself at yet another crossroads as a new season approaches. This will likely be his last best chance to prove himself in the Association.

Selected as the No. 4 pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010, the swingman out of Iowa State and Syracuse has shown flashes of promise offset by a tendency to blend into the woodwork. After two seasons in Minnesota, one with the Phoenix Suns and one with the Los Angeles Lakers, Johnson just doesn't seem to have progressed all that much.

His 9.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in 62 starts out of 79 appearances in purple and gold weren't that distinguishable from his rookie campaign when he averaged nine points and three boards, with 63 starts out of 79 games.

There was one rather noticeable difference last season, however. Coach Mike D'Antoni often used the combo small forward/shooting guard as an undersized power forward. At 6'7” and 215 pounds, Johnson was a sapling amongst the league's taller and sturdier frontcourt trees.

As relayed by Eric Pincus for the Los Angeles Times last season D'Antoni explained his reasoning thusly:

What coaches have to coach Shawn Marion? That was the experience I had and I told Wesley and that's a lofty goal, no doubt about it, because Shawn is obviously one of the better players in the league - - but (Johnson) has a lot of those qualities. He can do that. He can disrupt at the four.

That experiment didn't do much to solidify Johnson's standing with the Lakers. After the season ended, the chronic underachiever found himself unemployed once again, without any apparent suitors. After management ...

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