Brooklyn Nets: Alize Johnson is a weapon Nets should use in playoffs

Apr 29, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Alize Johnson (24) Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 29, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Alize Johnson (24) Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Brooklyn Nets are likely going to use the next few games to experiment with several different lineup combinations, a philosophy that could lead to players like Alize Johnson getting some extra time in the rotation.

Johnson, who was signed to a 10-day contract after the Toronto Raptors foolishly chose to sign Henry Ellenson over him, has proven to be a capable backup in Brooklyn. Not only is he averaging 6.5 points and 5.8 rebounds for a Nets team still reeling from the LaMarcus Aldridge retirement, but he’s proven to be a solid defender despite the fact he’s viewed as a bit undersized.

Johnson’s crowning moment with the Nets came during their victory against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night. He recorded 20 points and 21 rebounds in the dominant victory. Johnson not only scooped up every board in sight, but he ran the floor well and continued to show he can finish close to the rim.

Johnson became the first player since November 2018 to record a 20/20 game off the bench, while becoming the first player in almost three decades to amass 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game on the road. The Nets need to figure out ways to make sure Kevin Durant’s “young bull” gets minutes down the stretch.

Alize Johnson has been dominating at times for the Brooklyn Nets

In games that Johnson has totaled 10 or more minutes, he’s averaging 12 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, which are fantastic numbers. He’s also averaging over 17 rebounds per 36 minutes and an eye-popping 23 rebounds per 100 possessions. The only players with more rebounds per 100 are Clint Capela and Dwight Howard. 

The Nets love to play smaller and run the floor, and the organizational commitment to that style of attack is one of the many reasons that DeAndre Jordan has received subpar reviews. Johnson might be a bit raw, but he’s a much better fit for that style of offense, and he could help put players like Blake Griffin and Jeff Green out at their usual power forward positions.

Though he doesn’t have the most varied offensive game, Johnson is looking like an ideal small ball center, and his ability to rebound and defend will help the Nets against bigger teams in the postseason. Not giving him minutes would be egregious considering the lack of alternatives.

Johnson went from roster filler and a complete afterthought to someone that has been so impressive in his limited role that the Nets have to figure out more ways to get him on the floor. With his ability to pull down rebounds and defend in the post, Brooklyn might’ve just lucked into yet another contributor on the interior.