In unsurprising news after his excellent summer league performance, guard Nick Johnson is expected to sign a three-year deal with the Houston Rockets, according to Chris Haynes of Comcast Sports Northwest.
Rockets like what they’ve seen in second round pick Nick Johnson out of Arizona and plan to ink him to three-year deal, league source says.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 16, 2014
PointGuardU.com is reporting that the contract will be guaranteed.
The Rockets selected the athletic Johnson 42nd overall in June after he declared for the draft following his breakout junior season at Arizona. Johnson was the best player on what, in my opinion, was the most consistently good team in the country last season. He was far and away their most consistent offensive threat, averaging 16.3 points per game on a 55% true-shooting percentage with a 21.5 PER. For his efforts, he was named Pac-12 Player of the Year and was also named to their all-defensive team.
On the next level, Johnson projects as something of a tweener at this point. He’s slightly too small and doesn’t quite shoot well enough to play the off-guard spot, plus he doesn’t particularly have the point guard skills to consistently handle the ball and get everyone involved. Johnson has pretty good vision, he just tends not to use it from time-to-time. The key for the Rockets will be to attempt to develop Johnson’s mental and passing acuity so that it matches his tremendous athletic ability.
In that regard, a good comparison for Johnson at this point would be that of the high school football “athlete” recruit. Right now, he’s just using his incredible athleticism to make constant plays all over the floor. The basis and fundamentals are there for him to become a really strong NBA-level basketball player, it’s just up to a coaching staff to harness this athleticism into a tangible skill level.
My guess is that Johnson spends quite a bit of time in Rio Grande Valley this season for the Rockets developing those skills. Houston already has Isaiah Canaan in tow along with James Harden, Troy Daniels, and Patrick Beverley. Johnson might be able to squeeze his way in there for some playing time, but he might be better off with a year in the D-League. The Vipers are a great place for him to learn, as he should be allowed to develop his outside shot in conjunction with learning how to play efficient basketball.