Oklahoma City Thunder make worthwhile investment in Dakari Johnson

The Oklahoma City Thunder made a worthwhile investment signing former second round pick, Dakari Johnson, to a guaranteed two-year deal.

The Oklahoma City Thunder came into the offseason with very little wiggle room. They were already over the cap before free agency began and had only one selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. Despite those limitations, the Thunder did very well in adding talent to the roster.

Their biggest move of the offseason, and arguably the most surprising in the whole league, was their acquisition of Paul George. The George sweepstakes had been going on for months, and the Thunder came away victorious. They landed George in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis; a steal no matter what angle is taken.

In the draft, the Thunder landed high-upside shooting guard, Terrance Ferguson. They were able to navigate free agency as well despite the limited resources.

Patrick Patterson was signed to a team-friendly deal as the Thunder used their mid-level exception to land him. He will provide the Thunder with a stretch-4 and help replace Taj Gibson. Oklahoma City bolstered its backcourt with veteran point guard Raymond Felton, who was signed for the veteran minimum.

One signing that flew under the radar was Dakari Johnson. The Thunder originally selected Johnson in the second round of the 2015 NBA Draft. He was the 18th pick in the second round and No. 48 overall.

He has yet to appear in an NBA game, but he and the Thunder agreed to a guaranteed two-year deal. That is something that would normally be a cause for concern, but the Thunder are making a wise investment with Johnson.

For starters, Johnson has been developing nicely in the Thunder’s pipeline. He has played three seasons in the Summer League with Oklahoma City and in two G-League seasons. Each year he has shown growth and development, especially offensively.

Playing for some loaded Kentucky teams, Johnson never had much of a chance to showcase his talents and flourish. But once he joined the Thunder’s organization, that changed. Johnson increased his scoring output from 12.3 points per game in his first season with the Oklahoma City Blue of the G League to 18.5 per game this past season.

This improvement in the Summer League was even more impressive. Entering his third professional season, Johnson is a player you’d expect to dominate Summer League, and that is exactly what he did.

In his first Summer League appearance, Johnson averaged a modest 7.6 points per game. He increased that to 11.6 in his second year and made a huge leap to 18 points per game this year. It is probably safe to say that Johnson will not be appearing in anymore Summer League games.

Johnson has shown an improved offensive game and has become more aggressive. He is looking for his shot more, which is a positive. The one thing holding him back offensively right now is his foul shooting, but even that he has improved upon. After shooting 58.1 percent in his first season, he shot 68.4 percent in his second year.

Seeing Johnson’s offensive game develop is good because he has already shown the capability to be a good rebounder and defender. He has averaged 8.0 rebounds per game during his time in the G League with a defensive rating of 103.7.

Looking at the Thunder’s depth chart, this is a move that makes a lot of sense. Oklahoma City only has Steven Adams and Enes Kanter at center on the roster. With how much Kanter struggles defensively, Johnson could provide an alternate option depending on the matchups.

Johnson has earned a spot on the Thunder’s roster. He has paid his dues in the G League and has improved each season, whether it be there or in the summer. The Thunder are taking full advantage of their G League affiliate.

Developing young players is difficult, but the Thunder look like they are succeeding in doing that with Dakari Johnson.