According to a tweet from Yahoo’s NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants will take former Purdue Boilermaker and Boston Celtic forward JaJuan Johnson with the top pick in Friday’s D-League Draft. Johnson was recently waived by the Houston Rockets on the 29th simply because the Rockets are too loaded at the PF spot (Johnson’s listed position) with young prospects like Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris and rookies Terrence Jones and Royce White.
Johnson was drafted 27th overall in the 2011 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics but was traded to Houston in the three team trade this summer that brought Courtney Lee to the Celtics. Johnson was traded after the drafting of fellow power forwards Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo and because of a report that the front office were disappointed in Johnson’s development over the off-season. With that being said, the D-League would be perfect for a former first round pick like Johnson because he can develop his game this season playing as a starter with Fort Wayne when he was only playing in practice and limited minutes with Boston (averaging 8.3 minute per game last year).
This pick would be a good move for the Mad Ants because of the fact that Johnson was such a heralded player in the NCAA with Purdue. In his record breaking senior season, Johnson averaged 20.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game and earned the Pete Newell Big Man Award, which is an award for best low-post college player each season. Johnson was also a consensus First-Team All-American and was named the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year.
I do believe that Johnson will be a successful player with the Mad Ants because I know that he was an extremely talented player with Purdue. He just needs to be given an opportunity to succeed at the pro level. He’ll be given that chance with Fort Wayne to be successful and perhaps become a D-League All-Star and eventually be called up by an NBA team to get another chance a la last year’s 1st overall pick Jamaal Tinsley.
Make sure to stay tuned to D-League Digest for around-the-clock coverage of all eight rounds of Friday’s D-League Draft starting at 7 p.m. Eastern. Later today expect a preview of the rest of the D-League draft as we find out together who will be suiting up for your favorite NBA D-League team. Also make sure to follow @Dakota_Schmidt on twitter on Friday night as I’ll be posting live draft updates.