The top half of the Nets’ roster is loaded with stars, from the Big Three to recent additions in Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. But the bottom half is just as important as Brooklyn sets its sights on a deep playoff run in a few months.
At the very bottom of the bottom half of the roster, one player has proven to be a valuable asset that the Nets don’t appear to be taking for granted.
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Steve Nash Is High on Alize Johnson
As far as first impressions go, Alize Johnson has made a good one in Brooklyn.
Johnson, a 6-foot-7 forward who shined for Toronto’s G League affiliate earlier this year, has already earned a second 10-day contract with the Nets. But he can’t earn a third from Brooklyn — league rules prohibit teams from doing so.
Instead, the Nets will have to make a decision before Johnson’s current 10-day contract expires at midnight Sunday. They can either guarantee his contract for the remainder of the season, or opt not to, which would send him back to free agency.
It seems Brooklyn is leaning in one direction concerning the 24-year-old’s future with the team.
“I think we feel pretty comfortable with what we have with Alize,” Nets coach Steve Nash said on Wednesday, per Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News. “He’s been outstanding, works hard, plays with outstanding energy, a great teammate so he’s been really productive in the minutes he has gotten.
“We feel confident in him as a player. He’s a great kid. We love having him in our clubhouse. We love when he gets a chance to play and we think he’s a player that can help us.”
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Johnson Making His Minutes Count
Johnson, a second-round pick by the Indiana Pacers in 2018, hasn’t played a ton since joining the Nets, but he has made the most of his minutes to this point. In five games, he is averaging 8.6 points (on 65.6 percent shooting from the field), 6.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 15 minutes per game. Earlier this year, the Missouri State product put himself in the G League MVP discussion as a double-double machine for the Raptors’ G League affiliate.
In Monday’s win against the Knicks, Johnson provided a boost off the bench, going for 12 points and seven rebounds as Brooklyn eked out a 114-112 win. Johnson didn’t commit a turnover, and the Nets were plus-11 when he was on the floor.
After the game, Joe Harris raved about the energy Johnson brought.
“From the moment he got here, that’s how he’s been,” the Nets guard said of Johnson, via SNY. “Even in practice sessions, he doesn’t back down from anybody. He’s aggressive on both ends of the court. I’m glad he got an opportunity (on Monday).”