ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported Wesley Johnson is returning to the Lakers on a one-year deal worth $1 million. Johnson joins a Laker team with a gaping hole at small forward.
Johnson, the fourth selection by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010, left Syracuse University as the most highly-touted small forward in his class. The 6’7″ swingman could not find the consistency on both ends, and ended up being traded to the Phoenix Suns after two seasons in Minnesota.
Johnson played the least amount of games in Phoenix, making an appearance in only 50. Last season was his first in Los Angeles, and he posted career numbers.
In 62 starts (second most of his career), Johnson averaged 28.4 minutes per game. He also posted a career-high in scoring (9.1 points per game) and field goal percentage at 42.5.
His athleticism and defense solidified his role in Mike D’Antoni‘s rotation. The Lakers have moved on from D’Antoni, and Johnson will have to improve new facets of his game to continue receiving similar minutes like last season.
With limited options and cap space, Johnson was one of the ideal signings of the Lakers. His familiarity with teammates like Nick Young and Xavier Henry provides cohesion to build within the Lakers perimeter core.
Johnson will join a plethora of forwards on Los Angeles’ roster with him being the only true option at small forward. If the Lakers decide not to pursue anymore targets at the position, Johnson is in prime position to secure a starting spot.
The Lakers will need improved defense and shooting to compete in a stacked Western Conference. Johnson played many minutes against much of the competition last season, and this year should be no different.