He's 23 years old and had a better player efficiency rating than All-Star Chris Kaman this past season. He had the best pick-and-roll numbers of any NBA player not named Dwight Howard. He was one of four players to average a steal and 1.5 blocks per 36 minutes. He's a former McDonald's All-American and cleaned up the glass better than Andrew Bynum and Kevin Garnett. And yet, despite the accolades, most people have never heard of him.
At 6-foot-9, Johnson played backup to Chris Bosh in Toronto and did the dirty work for the 40-win squad this past season. Offensively, he's a putback machine and understands his low ceiling as a scorer. He's the team-first warrior whom every playoff team needs. Stick him in a Glen Davis-type role for a contending team, and everyone will know his name.
And while I'm giving away content from the Insider side of the site, feast your eyes on this feel-good nugget from David Thorpe in ranking the rookies:
2. Wesley Johnson, Timberwolves
My regular readers may be surprised to see Johnson ranked this high, considering I've always pegged him as just a solid player. But "solid" will earn you minutes in the NBA as a rookie, and it's likely that Johnson, the No. 4 pick, will share the two wing spots with Corey Brewer and Martell Webster, so he'll get ample time to put up numbers.
Minnesota also can be expected to move either or both of those aforementioned veterans as they shop Al Jefferson around, and that would only add minutes, touches and opportunities for Johnson to shine further.