After being drafted in the first round in a painfully weak draft in 2011, playing minimal minutes during his first season, being traded to a team with an excessive amount of forwards and then waived weeks later, JaJuan Johnson's NBA career has been put on hold. JJ was waived by the Houston Rockets before their season opener and was never resigned by another team.
Although he has the height and athleticism to be in the NBA, JaJuan doesn't have the ball handling skills, weight, or post game needed to compete in The Association. JJ also doesn't really have a position either: He's too skinny and weak to be a center or power forward, and doesn't have the athleticism or handle of a small forward. His only means of scoring are the mid-range jump shot or offensive rebounds that lead to points.
JaJuan's NBA journey has now brought him back home to Indiana to play for The Fort Wayne Mad Ants. So what does playing for the worst team in the D-League mean for JaJuan? For starters it can be a confidence builder. The Mad Ants will look for JaJuan to be one of their star players. If JJ can resume that role like he had with Purdue he should feel more comfortable.
Another plus is that he will get more individual coaching. Being on a championship contending team like The Celtics, JaJuan had the opportunity to be mentored by one of the best power forwards over the past few years in Kevin Garnett. But his development never took off and The Celtics needed to restock their team compete with The Miami Heat. JaJuan didn't fit the team's needs and was then shipped off to Houston along with teammate E'Twaun Moore.
With The Rockets he was lost in a sea of more talented young big men. Now he is one of the better players on a not-so-hot minor league team, and has the chance to make something of it. He will need to take advantage of this opportunity to learn a better post game, ball handling, rebounding, and hopefully add some weight. If he ever wants to have a career in the NBA he HAS to bulk up. If you're up against starting NBA forwards and centers, you'll need to be able to hold your own against them and JaJuan's frame just won't allow that.
Hopefully this will be a turning point for JJ's NBA career. If he can add size and more elements to his game, then he may have a shot at finding a new team in the NBA over the course of the next few years. If not, then JaJuan may want to start thinking about going overseas. We wish the best, JaJuan.