Paul George has been impressive this season. David West has been rock solid this season. Roy Hibbert is holding his own on the defensive side of things, and his offense is slowing there. George Hill has blossomed as the floor general. But guess who really has impressed me? Orlando Johnson. Now you might be saying, who? This guy is the second round draft pick for the Pacers, who’s getting more and more playing time thanks to his sudden emergence. He’s made 16 out of his last 23 three pointers. He’s out there shooting with confidence. He’s the first guy off the bench in recent games, and he’s looking more and more like the steal of the draft.
Going into last year’s draft, the Pacers went with Miles Plumlee, who we are still shaking our head at. Especially when he’s bouncing back and forth between the Pacers and the D League. But then came the pick of the second round in Orlando Johnson. All I had heard was he could score. But could he score at the NBA Level? This answer is more and more apparent that he can indeed score at this level. Even if he’s not scoring, going out there with confidence is key. I remember a game against the Miami Heat, where Johnson took on Wade on offense. He made a move and with Wade in his face, he took the shot. Now of course, my memory doesn’t help recall if he made that shot. I mean it was just a random moment that I can remember when I saw that Johnson was blossoming into something. That’s all it takes for me to see something.
Now that he’s getting the minutes to play, and even in last night’s win, he comes in for Lance Stephenson to play some minutes with the starters. Not Gerald Green. Not D.J. Augustin. Not Sam Young. But a rookie, Johnson, gets the call to play some with the four starters. That’s gotta be the belief this Pacers team has in him. Just think if he can continue to hone his shot, and picks up his game on defense, you will have a great bench player. Then you move Lance Stephenson back to the bench once Danny Granger gets going. That bench unit could be right where this Pacers team needs it to be.
Keep an eye on this kid. I think he’s got a great ceiling in front of him. I just get giddy seeing him out there with a silky smooth shot. Come back, and tell me if I am right or wrong about Orlando Johnson.