Name: Brice Johnson
Years in NBA: 2
Key Stats: 1.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in 4.2 minutes per game, with 9 games played (for the Clippers)
2017-2018 Salary: $1,331,160
Future Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
Unlike his rookie season, there wasn’t much expectation of Brice getting any rotation minutes in the 2017-2018 season. With Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Montrezl Harrell, and Willie Reed all ahead of him as pure big men, and with Danilo Gallinari requiring minutes at power forward as well, there was no conceivable path to Brice getting minutes barring an absolute epidemic of injuries. And while the Clippers were hit hard by injuries, the backcourt was decimated, not the frontcourt, providing no opening for Brice. He appeared in nine games for the Clippers, all in garbage time, and showed nothing in those limited stretches worthy of further minutes. On January 29, Brice was traded to the Pistons along with Blake and Reed. Brice didn’t play for the Pistons; they traded him to the Grizzlies just 10 days after his arrival from Los Angeles. Brice got slightly more opportunities in Memphis, appearing in nine games with them, and getting real rotation minutes in a couple of those. Unfortunately, he failed to impress Memphis either, and the Grizzlies waived him in late March.
Brice is a fluid athlete for a player of his size, able to move quickly up and down the court. He also has some explosive hops, enabling him to throw down some thunderous dunks around the basket. Johnson has worked on his jumpshot, and it’s relatively smooth, though it doesn’t quite extend beyond the three-point line. In all, Johnson is an effective scorer, with rudimentary post moves in addition to his shot.
Brice’s biggest weakness is that he seems to lack any kind of advanced basketball IQ or awareness. He hoists up midrange jumpers without regard for score, shot clock, or position of teammates. On defense, he frequently resembles a chicken with its head cut off, running here and there without purpose or intent. While he could probably score if given a real shot in the NBA, it wouldn’t be efficient scoring, and he would provide almost nothing else on the basketball court outside of average rebounding. There’s a lot he needs to work on, but simply playing smarter in a team environment has to be priority number one.
Future with Clippers:
It’s doubtful Brice Johnson ever plays for the Clippers again. In fact, barring a stunning performance in Summer League or a team’s training camp, Brice is likely headed overseas for the near future if he wants to continue his basketball career. It’s a sad reality for a player who was picked in the 1st round just two years ago, and who had such a promising start in his first Summer League. That injury his rookie season may have thrown him off for good, as he’s never shown the type of overall game that made him such a star in college at UNC.
Brice certainly has the tools and talent to be a good professional player. He just needs to work on his game, substantially, before an NBA team will want him playing minutes for them. Passing, defense, shooting, and decision-making are all in need of enhancement, and Brice should essentially live in the gym this summer to get a start on those improvements. Best of luck to Brice on his future professional career, Clippers’ future or no.