See that hulking 6’8, 255 pound frame running up and down the court in a Dallas Mavericks summer league uniform? That’s no apparition. That’s Ivan Johnson, former member of the Atlanta Hawks whose claim to fame was coming out of nowhere to become one of the NBA’s oldest and most unique rookies.
Johnson has the body of a bruiser but a far more varied skillset. His rebounding and ability to finish inside come as little surprise, but his quickness and mid-range jumper caught plenty of players off guard in two NBA seasons. Johnson shot 40.2% from mid-range in the 2012-13 season, his last in the NBA. The Hawks allowed 2.1 fewer points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor, and his per-36 numbers impressed: 15.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals.
After his stint in the NBA, Johnson played for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls in China during last season, and is looking to find his way back into the NBA. With the interest he’s picked up, it’s a bit of a surprise that he’s starting his return through the Summer League. Anyone that’s watched him in Atlanta knows he’s an NBA-caliber player; nevertheless, he’s here with the Dallas Mavericks to remind the basketball world what he can do.
“I want to be in the NBA,” Johnson said. “That was my dream in the beginning, and it still is.”
Another Summer League storyline is nothing to complain about, and Johnson’s play over the next week plus will certainly be a fun one to keep track of.