Brice Johnson can’t overlook the season he misplaced. The 6-foot-10 energy ahead nonetheless wonders what may need occurred if he hadn’t suffered a herniated disk in his again in an exhibition recreation in October, nonetheless imagines the impact he may need had on the Clippers, who drafted him at No. 25 after a 4-yr profession at North Carolina.
“I nonetheless give it some thought,” stated Johnson, who was projected as a potential backup for Blake Griffin. “I can’t get it out of my head, simply because I used to be prepared. I assumed I used to be able to go, I used to be prepared for the NBA. After which I received injured and it sort of set me again.”
He didn’t make his NBA debut till Feb. 23 and performed a complete of three minutes in three common-season video games along with a D-League stint.
“I’ve by no means gotten a critical damage like that earlier than in my life. I’ve by no means been actually harm,” he stated. “I’ve all the time performed, so it actually harm me and I’m taking it out proper now.”
Johnson on Sunday had his second straight strong efficiency for the Clippers’ summer time league workforce, contributing 14 factors, six rebounds, one help, two steals and two blocks to a come-from-behind 86-sixty seven victory over the Utah Jazz. It was a superb followup to his 23-level, seven-rebound, three-block effort within the Clippers’ victory over the Lakers on Friday.
“Brice is our workforce chief,” stated Sam Cassell, the Clippers’ summer time league coach. “As Brice goes, we go. It’s simply that straightforward.”
If solely it have been so easy.
Cassell stated it could actually take awhile for Johnson to get moving into video games, and his coaches have needed to push him to remain disciplined. Johnson sat for lengthy stretches of the Clippers’ first summer time league recreation final yr in Orlando, Fla., however responded properly within the subsequent recreation; he was benched by North Carolina coach Roy Williams for eight minutes towards UCLA in December 2015 for utilizing foul language to vent frustration earlier than he set a profession-better of 27 factors within the Tar Heels’ victory over the Bruins. On Sunday, after a chat with Cassell within the first half, Johnson scored 10 of his factors within the fourth quarter to safe the rout.
“Brice is a man who permits the sport to return to him. However you’ve obtained to leap-begin him,” Cassell stated. “As soon as I leap-begin him, he’ll be wonderful. You encourage him, however not a bunch of screaming and yelling. I simply inform him what I anticipate from him. If I inform him what I anticipate from him, more often than not he provides me what I would like.”
Will that be sufficient for Johnson to win Clippers coach Doc Rivers’ belief?
“Summer time league is essential for him. He’s acquired to showcase to us as coaches that he deserves to play,” Cassell stated. “Proper now he’s received to take the time and provides Doc one thing to consider.”
Johnson stated he didn’t got down to be a pacesetter for the Clippers’ summer time league group however the position naturally fell to him. He is aware of he should set a extra constant instance.
“I’ve obtained to do a greater job within the video games,” he stated. “Right now I got here out slightly sluggish and type of harm us a bit of bit there however we had plenty of guys step up, like Jamil Wilson [who had 18 points]. … I’ve simply received to do a greater job of coming in there and being slightly extra vocal and more durable and have a bit extra power.”
His main aim right here was to remind Rivers and the coaches why they drafted him final yr. He hopes what he can deliver will probably be well worth the wait he and the Clippers needed to endure.
“Simply go on the market and show what I wasn’t capable of show final yr,” he stated. “I simply have to return out right here and show to the blokes within the group that I can nonetheless play. They drafted me for a cause and I’ve acquired to return out and show it. Whether or not I had a nasty first half or not, I needed to nonetheless come out right here and play.”
The Clippers shall be a vastly totally different workforce than they have been once they drafted Johnson, particularly because the departure of Chris Paul.
“I want Chris was nonetheless right here however he’s doing what he’s obtained to do. Acquired to let him go. We’ve obtained to maneuver on,” Johnson stated. “We’re anticipating massive issues out of everyone. We’re going to be nice. We’re nonetheless going to be a contender within the West.”
Johnson sees himself coming off the bench to offer power and significant minutes.
“No matter they want me to do,” he stated. “I might simply get rebounds, or I might are available and get some attractiveness on the offensive finish. I might do all of that. Blocked photographs, no matter they want me to do I might are available and do it.”
If he succeeds, will probably be simpler for him to overlook his misplaced season.