Alize Johnson’s stellar season with the Raptors 905 has earned him a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets.
Johnson, who was a G League MVP candidate and named to the All-NBA G League Second Team, was rewarded with an NBA contract Sunday night. The 6’7 forward led the G league in defensive rebounds and finished second in total rebounds per game with 13.3. He was an integral part of a Raptors 905 team that lost in the semi- finals this season after closing the regular season with eight straight wins.
It did not take long for Raptors 905 fans to wonder how long it might be before Johnson was called up to the Toronto Raptors this season. The 24 year old Missouri St. product averaged 16.6 points during the Orlando bubble, including putting up 22 points and 20 rebounds in a February 24th win against the Delaware Blue Coats. Johnson was a beast in the paint on both sides of the court and was a reliable and efficient forward for 905 head coach Patrick Mutombo.
Mutombo sang the praises of Johnson all season, including after a comeback win against the Westchester Knicks February 27th. With the team playing their second game in less than 24 hours, they struggled to keep up with the Knicks. The lone bright spot for the 905 that night was the determined play of Johnson, who finished with 36 points and dragged his team to victory in a game they had no business winning. Mutombo loved the swagger on the court and the energy during team huddles in the final quarter. Johnson certainly earned the respect from his coaching staff and the organization to be a trustworthy player for late game situations over the course of the season.
Johnson was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 2018 but was unable to assume more than a reserve role with the team. He was waived by the Toronto Raptors in December 2020 before signing with the 905 for the 2021 season in Orlando. Johnson now has the opportunity to build on his 31 NBA games with the title contending Nets who had an open roster spot. It is unclear how Brooklyn intends to deploy the elite rebounder in their lineup alongside Blake Griffin.
Many 905 basketball fans feel that the Toronto Raptors may have let one slip away in not signing Johnson. As one of the best rebounders in the G League this season, it seemed Johnson and the Toronto Raptors, who are one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA, would be an excellent fit. Instead, Toronto opted to give teammate Henry Ellenson a 10-day contract on March 10th to fill an open roster spot. It was only a matter of time before Johnson was signed, as multiple teams were rumoured to be interested.
No matter what NBA team Johnson plays for, many G League and Canadian basketball fans will celebrate his promotion. There is no questioning Johnson’s work ethic and on-court production and he will surely make the most of his opportunity with the Nets.
Written by Connor Lamont