Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gothic Ginobili Casts Ivan Johnson as 'Orthodontist to the Toothache We Call Humanity'

Aaron McGuire at Gothic Ginobili is still working through his 370-part series of player capsules for almost every rotation NBA player. McGuire's series is among the most useful and readable work I've ever seen on a web log.

Today he took on Ivan Johnson, a player he describes as highly suited to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. He also predicts Johnson will survive for a number of years in the NBA, based on the quality of his defense and in spite of his flaws. Wrote McGuire:
He has issues, mind you. The turnovers, the fouls, the technicals -- all those are harmful, and will serve to curtail his playing time significantly going forward. But his defense is really quite solid, individually. I'm not entirely sure how well he works within the team concept, defensively. His high-intensity high-voltage style on the defensive end is best described as the defensive equivalent of a volume shooter's style on offense. He gets the defensive highlights with his blocks and physical shoves, and he sort of forces you to pay attention to him.
I've compared the story of Ivan's startling emergence to that of Jeremy Lin. One of the greatest moves Danny Ferry has made thus far as GM of the Hawks was to hire Kenny Atkinson, the coach Lin credited with aiding his emergence, away from the Knicks. Now Johnson has the opportunity to make his story even more comparable to Lin's by working every day with the coach who helped Lin break out.

As McGuire states in his capsule, Ivan has the physical tools to be a force defensively. He has a combination of strength and mobility that is almost unheard of (the obvious comparisons are Dwight Howard and LeBron James). However, he doesn't always seem to know where he's supposed to be. The burden is on Atlanta's coaching staff to bridge the gap and get him to play a style where the refs will pay less attention to him.

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