Houston Rockets Preseason Roster Review: Shooting Guard

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Mar 29, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Arizona Wildcats guard Nick Johnson (13) shoots the final shot against Wisconsin Badgers guard Traevon Jackson (12) during overtime in the finals of the west regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at Honda Center. The Badgers defeated the Wildcats 64-63. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Johnson – 6’3”, 200, 21 years old

The Rockets took Nick Johnson with the 42nd pick in the 2nd round in this year’s NBA draft out of Arizona.  It was a classic Rockets 2nd round pick, a leader on his college team for several years and undervalued by most of the NBA and so called mock draft experts. The Rockets have had success grabbing players with similar pedigree in the 2nd round with Chandler Parsons, Chase Budinger, Carl Landry and they hope Isaiah Canaan as well.

Johnson averaged 16.3 point per game as a junior this past season. He shot 36% from 3-point range over his career and was the unquestioned team leader the past 2 seasons on a very talented Arizona team where was usually the guy who they wanted taking the last shot or having the ball in his hands as the clock wound down.

Johnson was undervalued because of his size. At only 6’3” Johnson is fairly small for a shooting guard and having never really played point guard, his playmaking ability was questioned as to if he could make that transition. The Rockets however, just saw a kid that is a good basketball player and is way more athletic than most people realize.

We got a glimpse of what Nick Johnson can bring to the table in this past year’s summer league and although he didn’t lead the team in many categories of all the rookies there he was one that definitely turned some heads with his athleticism and fearlessness.

For those old enough to see his uncle, the late great hall of famer Dennis Johnson in his prime, you had to see the similarities. And when I’m saying his prime I’m actually referring to his time before his Celtics days, when he was in Seattle with the Sonics.

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Dennis Johnson was a lock down defender at the shooting guard position and was an athletic leaper who played alongside a scoring point guard, Gus Williams. Johnson’s offensive game developed over time as well as his playmaking ability and by the time he ended up with the Celtics of the 80’s playing with Danny Ainge he took on some point guard duties.

Nick Johnson’s career, if he’s successful, could end up very similarly. We may never be sure if he’s a shooting guard or a point guard but he’s a good basketball player and good basketball players tend to FIND a way to improve and contribute to their teams in some capacity.

For this season we would expect Nick Johnson to start the season in the D-League with the Rio Grand Valley Vipers and possibly spend the bulk of the year there. But that will depend on his development and how others who have already spent time in the D-League fair.

After seeing Nick Johnson in the Summer League and knowing his lineage I would not be shocked if he continues to surprise people and is in the rotation sooner than many may think.

Click here to see Part 1 – Centers

Click here to see Part 2 – Power Forwards

Click here to see Part 3 – Small Forwards

Click here to see Part 5 – Point Guards

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