The Grizzlies have officially announced the signing of James Johnson of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the NBA D-League. From the official Griz press release:
The Memphis Grizzlies signed forward James Johnson of the NBA Development League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the team announced.
Johnson (6-9, 245) joins the Grizzlies after averaging 18.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.90 steals and 3.40 blocks on .496 shooting in 29.9 minutes in 10 games (all starts) for Rio Grande Valley this season. The 26-year-old is the only D-League player this season to rank in the top 15 in scoring (14th), rebounding (12th) and assists (14th) by average. He also places third in the D-League in blocks per game and is tied for seventh in steals per game.
Another useful place to go for info is Johnson's Basketball Reference entry.
Last night when I got word that the Grizzlies were interested in Johnson, I asked my friend Andrew Ford of SB Nation's Grizzly Bear Blues—who has worked on NCAA coaching staffs and loves scouting NBA prospects—for a little bit of a scouting report on Johnson, and here's what he said: Johnson is a tweener (but I would have to assume the Grizzlies are primarily interested in playing him at the 3) who has "a pretty complete offensive game" in that he can face up and create off the dribble, but also work with his back to the basket if he has an advantage. He can use his quickness and footwork to get a good shot against a bigger man in the post. His passing is also "very underrated, good for one or two assists a game."
If you look at his per-36 numbers, he can score and rebound, but his shooting percentages are, well, less than stellar. He's a career .273 from three, with a .461 eFG% for his career.
Overall Johnson sounds like a guy who can come in off the bench and contribute something. He's been performing well in the D-League and is neither (1) old nor (2) out for the year with an injury. This signing is certainly an admission that the small forward spot has been a problem for the Grizzlies, and hopefully Johnson can come in and contribute and put out the dumpster fire at the wing positions for the Grizzlies.