Brooklyn Nets: Alize Johnson playing himself into Nets rotation

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - MARCH 24: Alize Johnson #24 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - MARCH 24: Alize Johnson #24 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

When the Brooklyn Nets signed former Toronto Raptors G League star Alize Johnson to a 10-day contract, it didn’t seem like much of a needle-moving transaction.

While he put up some gaudy numbers in the G League, there had to be a reason that the Raptors, who need rebounding more than any other team, let him go…right?

Johnson has had to fight and claw for every inch in the NBA, as the former Missouri State product and second-round pick has had to overcome his 6-7, 212-pound frame in order to become a quality rebounder at the professional level.

Based on the early returns with the Nets, Johnson’s ability to rebound and score inside has transferred over to Brooklyn.

Johnson is averaging 8.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game this season. However, if you remove a game against the Chicago Bulls in which he played 48 seconds, he is totaling 10.7 points and 8.2 boards per game, with his double-double against the Utah Jazz serving as his high point.

After taking part in the complete demolition of the New Orleans Pelicans in Kevin Durant’s return, Nets head coach Steve Nash hinted at the fact that Brooklyn would like to keep Johnson past his second 10-day contract. 

Alize Johnson might have a future with the Brooklyn Nets.

Johnson doesn’t have a very varied offensive game, but he adds a very unique dimension to the Nets on both ends of the floor. Jeff Green had been playing some small-ball center, but he lacks the defensive and rebounding chops to excel in that role.

Johnson allows Green and Blake Griffin to remain further away from the basket, where they are more effective. While he might only see most of his minutes in mop-up duty, that could change if Brooklyn decides to keep him.

If Johnson slowly develops a jumper, which shouldn’t be hard to do given the surplus of offensive coaching talent on this team, he could carve out a role as the backup power forward or third-string center. With DeAndre Jordan likely on the way out, Brooklyn could lean on two high-energy young bigs in Johnson and Nicolas Claxton.

The Nets might not be able to give Johnson a ton of playing time this year due to their surplus of veterans, but he assuredly has a future in this league. Rather than falling into the same trap the Raptors did by allowing him to go somewhere else, Nash needs to fit Johnson into their long-term plans as a serviceable backup big man.