Chris Johnson Called Up by Trail Blazers From the D-League
The Blazers, currently with 15 players under contract, will have to release someone in order to sign Johnson with the most likely option being seldom-used Sean Marks. Marks has played in 24 games with Portland this season while posting averages of 1.6 points and 1.5 rebounds in 7.6 minutes of action. Update: According to The Columbian, the Blazers have been granted a hardship exception as four of their players -- Camby, Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, Elliot Williams -- have all missed at least three consecutive games due to injury.
Johnson, a 6-foot-11 center out of LSU, is currently averaging 17.2 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game in just over 33 minutes per game. In his most recent game, a 114-101 loss to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Johnson scored 34 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and swatted four shots while making 13 of his 23 attempts from the field.
Blazers Director of Pro Scouting Mike Born was in South Padre Island, Texas, at the D-League Showcase last week and mentioned Johnson when asked which players stood out to him. Johnson earned Second Team All-Showcase honors in his two games in Texas. The Blazers also had Johnson in for two pre-draft workouts prior to last year's NBA draft.
While his averages are excellent, Johnson isn't terribly efficient as a true big man due to his slight frame. Typically getting bullied inside by stronger opponents, the 210-pounder has developed an efficient midrange game that he's been effective with in pick-and-pop plays. Aside from the 20-foot jumper, Johnson's shown a propensity to finish a bevy of alley-oops and putbacks with his absurd vertical jumping ability.
Johnson will be the fourth D-League call-up of the season, following Zabian Dowdell (Phoenix Suns), Larry Owens (San Antonio Spurs) and Mustafa Shakur (Washington Wizards).