Johnson Adds Athleticism to Suns' Wing

By Stefan Swiat,
Posted: July 31, 2012

The second Wesley Johnson steps on the court for the Suns this season, the team will instantaneously become exponentially more athletic.

The 6-7 swingman, who has a penchant for creating dunk posters, was introduced to the Phoenix media Tuesday after being acquired via trade from Minnesota. Last Friday, the Suns completed a three-team, sign-and-trade deal with the New Orleans Hornets and Minnesota Timberwolves that sent restricted free agent Robin Lopez, forward Hakim Warrick and cash considerations to the Hornets, and a 2014 second-round draft pick to the Timberwolves.

In exchange, Phoenix received swingman Johnson, a protected 2013 first round pick from Minnesota and more financial flexibility. While the picks help the franchise’s future, the hope is for Johnson to make an immediate impact.

“He’s a very athletic player,” Suns GM Lance Blanks said. “He’s in the upper percentile of athletes in the league and that’s one of the exciting things I think we’ll see with this team in general. Having guys that can run well, high-flyers that have long arms, are lengthy and can just make the game a lot more fun, (is exciting).”

Johnson just completed his second NBA season after being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. The 25-year-old owns career averages of 7.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists.

However, the key with Johnson is his upside. The Suns haven’t had a young athlete on the wing like Johnson in some time.

The former Syracuse Orangeman boasts a 7-1 wingspan and a 37-inch vertical leap. Videos of him on-line dunking over the likes of Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka are also readily available.

Johnson is also coming off a successful Las Vegas Summer League in which he averaged 20.5 points on 48-percent shooting from the floor. In addition, he also shot 45 percent from behind the arc.

“I wouldn’t say (summer league) was a coming out party, but it was freeing to just come out and play and regain my confidence playing basketball,” Johsnon said.

In his final year at Syracuse, Johnson averaged 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds, becoming a finalist for various “player of the year” awards. He will now reunite with former Minnesota teammates Michael Beasley and Sebastian Telfair in Phoenix, a prospect he’s looking forward to doing.

The native of warm weather is also eager to trade his snow shovel for a swimsuit, especially after spending his past four years in the arctic temperatures of Minnesota and Syracuse.

“I’ve been loving the heat,” Johnson said of his first few days in the desert. “I’ve been stuck in the snow for quite a bit, so if I can say one thing, the sun has been good so far.

“I’m from Texas, so the heat is like one of my best friends, so I missed it a lot. So coming back here, I’m going to enjoy it.”

And hopefully Suns fans will enjoy the amount of highlight reels Johnson will be producing this upcoming season.

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