By R.L. Bynum
Cameron Johnson has proven doubters wrong since the day that the Phoenix Suns made him the 11th overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, and he’s about to take that to another level.
Suns coach Monty Johnson said Thursday that Johnson would be one of his starters. This comes after last season’s starting power forward Jae Crowder was told in the offseason that he’d have a smaller role on the team. Crowder has since asked for a trade and isn’t in training camp.
Ever since that draft day, he’s heard people question Phoenix picking him.
“Man, if I could tell you how many times people said something like that to me? If I had a dollar for every time, I wouldn’t need to hoop anymore,” Johnson said. “I love it, though. It puts a little chip on my shoulder and gives me extra motivation every step of the way. And I mean every step of the way — middle school, high school, college — every single time. I take it for what it is.”
Johnson, who averaged 12.5 points last season while shooting 42.5% from 3-point range, said that he doesn’t think going from a sixth man last season to a starter this season will be that much of an adjustment.
“It’s not like I’ve never played with that group before,” said Johnson, who played 239 minutes with the other four starters, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton.
Johnson also remembers getting first-team reps during training camp during his rookie season when Bridges and Kelly Oubre Jr. were hurt.
“It’s not completely new,” Johnson said. “It’s just getting acclimated to playing with that group full-time first unit. That’s the only change.”
Many might see Johnson as just a shooter, but Williams sees the third-year pro as much more than that.
“He’s got playmaking; he has the ability to be a connector because he’s a willing passer, and his athletic ability is something most people don’t talk about,” Williams said. “Defensively is where I told him he has to draw the line in the sand if you will — when he’s guarding smaller guys or some of these dynamic guys that he’s got to guard. Conversely, I think about those guys having to guard him, and that is something that’s exciting when you think about how it could open up our offense.”
One of Johnson’s big focuses is an area his mother has always stressed, and Coach Roy Williams emphasized at Carolina — rebounding.
“So, that’s gonna have to be a huge focus of mine is to rebound,” Johnson said. “Rebound a lot better than I have in my first couple of years.”
Johnson, who averaged 4.1 rebounds per game last season, said his mom wants him to pull down 10 rebounds a game.
You go Cam Johnson- show them what Tar Heels are made of. Puff is a star at Carolina.