Chris Johnson Signs with Celtics: Call-Up Breakdown
In the new-age NBA, wings who can defend the perimeter and knock down three-pointers -- so-called "three-and-D" players -- have become one of the hottest commodities. Athleticism and slashing ability simply act as icing on the cake. Chris Johnson, the heart and soul of the NBA D-League's new-age basketball juggernaut, blends all of those qualities into one ready-made package, so it's no surprise that the Boston Celtics have made him the 14th GATORADE Call-Up this season and the fourth in the last week alone.
This is the second straight year that Johnson has gotten the nod within two weeks of the NBA D-League Showcase, and that also comes as no surprise. In Reno last week, he had the look of the ultimate "star in your role" player as the glue guy for a team leading the league in wins (15) and threes made per game (16.8, more than five more than other other team), rising from No. 21 to No. 11 on NBADLeague.com's Prospect Watch.
No player has grasped the Rockets' "Moreyball" philosophy better than Johnson, who avoids inefficient mid-range shot attempts like the plague. He gets to the rim on cuts and drives, specializes in corner threes (77/160 -- 48% -- in two seasons), rarely turns the ball over (1.7/game) or commits fouls (2.25/game) and, factoring in the value of his treys and free throws, owns the 7th-best true shooting percentage (61%) among NBA D-League prospects. His season distribution chart -- which reveals that he's taken an incredible 88% of his shots from either beyond the arc or the restricted area compared to just 5% from mid-range -- is a virtual work of art to any advanced stat-head:
That's what made him such a key cog in the RGV machine, the only holdover from last year's championship squad and a part of every win during the Vipers' 25-game unbeaten streak that stretched into this season. That's what made him a target of the Grizzlies and Celtics, two of the many teams that have embraced advanced stats. And that's what, with time on his side at just 23 years old, could eventually make him a mainstay on an NBA bench.