Chris Johnson hasn’t had much playing time during his three NBA seasons. Last year, he played in 30 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves and was fairly efficient in limited time. The Timberwolves have plenty of bigs on their roster this year, and Johnson is still at the bottom of their depth chart, but the minutes will be there if Johnson looks good.
Johnson is a lanky 6-foot-11 power forward/center. He has played effective defense throughout his professional basketball career, winning NBA D-League Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 and blocking 28 shots in just 284 minutes last year for the Timberwolves. At 28 years old, Johnson doesn’t figure to add much to his game at this point, but according to Rotoworld, Johnson put on 15 pounds of muscle this offseason; that would put him around 225 pounds, which still rather light for his height and position. He has good speed and athleticism, however, which led to some great highlight dunks and alley-oops last season. Johnson’s per 36 minute numbers were outstanding, averaging 14.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks, but it’s hard to imagine him getting anywhere near that many minutes or producing like that next season.
With Johnson’s slight frame, he will get beat up playing heavy minutes by heavier 4s and 5s in the post, but he still has plenty of value as a shot blocker off the bench. Johnson is projected behind Kevin Love, Derrick Williams and Dante Cunningham at the power forward spot, but an injury to Chase Budinger may cause Williams to spend more time as a small forward. Johnson is also a better defensive player than the other power forwards, and he knows his role. At center, Johnson is behind Nikola Pekovic, Ronny Turiaf and possibly Gorgui Dieng. Turiaf didn’t play too well for the Los Angeles Clippers last year, and Dieng is still largely untested, so Johnson may find some minutes at the 5.
If Johnson can play 15 minutes per game for the Timberwolves this season, he will be able to make some serious contributions. Blocking shots and dunking are his specialties, but the Timberwolves don’t have another player like that, and Johnson can certainly earn himself a bigger role this season.