clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Suns to Sign Orlando Johnson to 10 Day Contract

New, comments

Shams Charania of The Vertical reports that the Suns are signing Johnson, who is currently playing for the Austin Spurs and played previously for the Indiana Pacers and the Sacramento Kings.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

According to Shams Charania, The Vertical's expert on all things roster acquisition-wise, the Suns will be signing Orlando Johnson of the Austin Spurs to a 10 day contract.

Johnson, a University of California at Santa Barbara product, was drafted by the Kings in 2012 before being traded to the Pacers. He played the 2012-13 season with the Pacers, and the beginning of the 2013-14 season with the team, before being cut and winding up back with the Kings. He did not make the roster for the subsequent season.

In 2014-15, Johnson played in the Spanish ACB for a handful of games, where he struggled mightily. He appeared in just 6 games before leaving the league.

Johnson then bounced around, playing for some time in the Philippine Basketball Association, where he averaged 34 points, 4 assists and 11 rebounds over 12 games. During this time, he shot 44%, including 31% from 3.

Johnson also played with the Austin Spurs during the 2014-15 season, where he played under then Spurs coach Earl Watson. In 14-15, Johnson averaged 17 points, 5 boards and 3 assists per game, on 50/32/77 shooting splits. He finished the season with a PER of 15.51, a fairly average mark.

This season, however, Johnson has really found an NBA level niche. While his numbers are down slightly (15-5-3), his outside shot has become nearly automatic. His shooting numbers for the season so far are 44/49/81, and he is taking nearly 4 three pointers per game.

Johnson's previous time in the NBA was a bit of a mixed bag. In his first full year in the league with the Pacers, he was a small but consistent part of a Pacers team that made a deep playoff run. As an almost exclusively 3 point specialist (more than half of his accumulated shots), he averaged 4 points, 2 rebounds and an assist in 12 minutes per game, and hit 38% of his shots from beyond the arc. He even managed to hold a very small rotation spot into the playoffs.

2013-14, however, was a year Johnson would love to forget. His shot totally came apart, and his playing time declined accordingly. Just a year after being a high second round draft choice (#36), Johnson was cut by the Pacers midway through the season. He would sign 2 ten day contracts with the Kings before ending his season.

It was a long way from Johnson's standout days at UCSB. A lightly recruited prospect out of Salinas, Johnson started his career at Loyola Marymount, before transferring to UCSB after his freshmen year and never looking back. In three years with the Gauchos, Johnson would average 20 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists per game, while shooting 47/41/73%. He led UCSB to NCAA Tourney appearances in 2010 and 2011, with the team barely missing in 2012

Johnson's strong play was enough to get him some projections as a late first round pick leading up to the 2012 NBA Draft. DraftExpress had these things to say about Johnson prior to the draft, when they predicted him to to 41st:

Averaging 23.4 points and 8.0 rebounds in UCSB's games against San Diego State, Washington, BYU, Cal, and UNLV, Johnson has alleviated many of the concerns scouts usually have about small conference prospects with his play against the Gaucho's high-major non-conference opponents...

Around the basket, Johnson's strong frame and touch make him a threat to take advantage of smaller wings in the post and finish in the paint...

With that said, his inability to create separation with his first step and lack of dynamic ball handling ability raises concerns about whether he'll be able to score efficiently inside the arc NBA, let alone make an impact around the basket...

Considering how little he turns the ball over for a player in his role, Johnson could fit into a spot-up oriented role if he can tone down his shot selection, ramp up his efficiency and fill a niche as a complimentary scorer...

On the defensive end, Johnson has been able to compensate for his average footspeed with his 7'0 wingspan as UCSB has moved away from its zone schemes for longer stretches. Using his length to effectively contest shots at the collegiate level, Johnson will need to show that he can deny penetration against NBA caliber athletes to remove questions about his defensive upside, something he's seen mixed results with this season...