Earlier this week, Ridiculous Upside had the gracious opportunity to have a conversation with Dakari Johnson, the star center of the Oklahoma City Blue. Johnson, a prospect out of the University of Kentucky, opened up about his experiences in the NBA Development League thus far, as well as his goals for this season. This being only his second season in the league, and sitting at an age of 21, Dakari certainly has enough time to showcase his raw talent to NBA teams in need of a young and aggressive center.
What is it like playing alongside a veteran like Jannero Pargo? What kind of experience does he bring to the team?
Playing with Jannero is great. He does an absolutely amazing job with just being the leader and veteran voice for us young players. Pargo’s a really cool guy, always giving us helpful tips that he’s picked up from time in the league.
As far as self-development, how has the D-League differed than from your time at Kentucky?
Just more time to work on my game. This is my job now, so all day it's basketball. I don't have to worry about going to class so I feel like I’m focusing on just development. I can work on weights, drills, workouts or conditioning—I’m practically always in the gym.
How has your experience at Kentucky helped you succeed in the league thus far?
It definitely helped me out a lot because Kentucky is probably the most challenging place you’re going to play in all of college basketball. With the coaches never letting up on you, I was already prepared from the challenge I went through at Kentucky when I came into the league. College ball certainly taught me a solid work ethic, and knowing how to grind a challenge out.
After Summer League you mentioned the need for working on your defensive end. What is your primary focus this season? Your goals for this season?
I'm really trying to work on my pick and roll coverage because at this level the game is really oriented around opening up, knowing your coverage, and just being vocal. Overall my goals for this season is just being the best I can be and help my team win.
How does Head Coach Daigneault make a positive impact on the younger players on the team?
Coach is always helping to make sure players have set schedules and daily routines. He puts us the right situation everyday, so we are always looking to improving our game. Coach encourages us to put extra work in like additional workouts, watching films, and working towards a specific goal to develop ourselves.