I think it’s about time we left Wesley Johnson alone.
Yes, he is an incredibly underwhelming lottery pick. Yes, he has not played to expectations. Yes, he was an athletic experiment gone wrong. But at a certain point, there is nothing left to say. Johnson is who he is.
Kevin Ding writes that Wes is a player full of “unrealized potential”; a sign of the Lakers decadence. That is a fallacious argument. Wes Johnson has reached his potential– that’s the problem. An “athlete first – basketball player second” guy, I am honestly surprised he’s put up the 9.2 point career average Wes is criticized for. Fact of the matter is, the book on Johnson was written long before he arrived in Los Angeles. The Lakers signed him for a meager minimum deal in 2013. Let’s not rewrite history– he was, and always has been, a low-risk, low-reward pickup. I must have missed the day the Lakers advertised Johnson as the steal of free agency.
So what if the guy flopped in a regular season game? He’s played in at least 50 games every season of his career. That’s more than you can say for his lottery pick counterparts Andrea Bargnani, Michael Beasley, or Greg Oden. How did Hasheem Thabeet turn out for Memphis? And come on, this is the team that started Kwame Brown as their PF for consecutive seasons– let’s not feign outrage, shall we?
Some would argue that on a team with as much playing time to give as the Lakers, Johnson is “squandering” the opportunity to increase his level of play. Have these people watched a Lakers game this season? By that logic, Jeremy Lin and Nick Young– offensive stalwarts– should be thriving this season. They, most simply are not. No need for a scapegoat.
We are all no strangers to draft busts. Johnson is a draft bust. There’s no need to extrapolate higher meaning into a rebuilding year. He just is who he is.