Last season, as Memphis Grizzlies' brass put on their scouting hats at the NBA D-League Showcase, they took a special liking to RGV Vipers guard Chris Johnson. Despite not being ranked as one of the top prospects on NBA.com/Dleague, the swingman emerged to eat up some minutes in Memphis through the middle months of the season after being called up from the Showcase.
This season, however, the Grizzlies didn't wait as long to pluck an intriguing enough swingman out of Rio Grande Valley.
The team announced on Monday they have signed former Sacramento Kings turned Vipers guard James Johnson out of the NBA D-League, making him the seventh GATORADE Call-Up of the year.
The minor league proved to be an interesting route for Johnson to take following four seasons as a worthy enough role player in the NBA. That said, his plan worked to perfection, as tearing up the D-League through the season's early weeks proved to be the fastest way to catch another team's attention and break into The Association once again.
A key player in the Vipers' early season success and impressive recent nine game winning streak, Johnson averaged 18.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 3.4 blocks, and 1.9 steals per game through ten contests. Shooting 50% from the field and putting up such numbers in just under thirty minutes per game, the swingman also proved to be as efficient as they come.
Though currently under new management and new guidance with a new head coach in Nevada Smith, RGV has always been a team that makes sure to readily prepare "that next guy" to step up and embrace a forthcoming opportunity, should another one of their key players get called up to the NBA. It'll be interesting to see who fills Johnson's shoes from here on out.
An NBA veteran of three teams, one of Johnson's best moments from last season (a game-winning shot against the Knicks) can be watched below.
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