Wesley Johnson was recently the #4 overall pick in the NBA draft. While that may have been a bit high, virtually everyone had him as a lottery pick. He was a great combination of rebounder and shooter in his one season at Syracuse under Jim Boeheim, who swore Johnson would be a great pro.
He never fit with the Timberwolves, who envisioned him as a long, athletic shooting guard thanks to his picture-perfect stroke. They saw a potentially elite defender and spot-up shooter in a lineup with playmaker Ricky Rubio and scorer Michael Beasley and rebounder-scorer extraordinaire Kevin Love at the forward spots.
In Phoenix, Johnson will spend most of this minutes at small forward, where he can play a little closer to the basket for rebounds and move and cut with the new Suns offensive system.
In a week of training camp, Johnson impressed coaches and players by making a lot of shots and helping teams of second- and third-stringers beat the starters on most nights. In the scrimmage, he pulled down seven rebounds to go along with 12 points.
"I think he's playing with more confidence," Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry told Stefan Swiat of suns.com. "And we have confidence in him. He's shooting the ball well."
Johnson is not a vocal leader, nor is he an aggressive scrapper. He won't wow you with foot speed.
But if he can defend at a high level, rebound a bit and make open shots, Wesley Johnson will be an effective backup small forward for the Suns.
"What they're telling me now is building up my confidence to take shots," Johnson said to Swiat. "I think this week I've come into my own and have gotten back to the old Wes.
"Everyone in the organization is making me feel like I'm at home. And I feel like that's translating to the court."
The Suns did not invest a lot of resources into Wesley Johnson. They took a one-year flier to see if he can succeed in a new system. If he plays well for the Suns, look for them to extend him next summer. If he doesn't, there's a lot of other guys on the roster who can play his minutes.
It's all up to Wes. And he looks like he's making the most of it.