Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
With the Pacers' frontcourt being a little inconsistent, there's a big man in the farm system waiting in the wings to put on a Pacers uniform.
JaJuan Johnson has been playing basketball in Indiana for awhile now. He's been loved by Boilermaker basketball fans since he walked in to West Lafayette.
From his Purdue days and now playing in the Pacers farm system, why not take Johnson's basketball career to the next level by calling up Johnson to help out the Pacers.
Johnson has started his season with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the NBA Development League. The Mad Ants are not independently owned, but the Pacers are one of four NBA squads to court the Mad Ants. (Milwaukee, Detroit, and Charlottte are the other four.)
Johnson has had some NBA experience with the Celtics. In 36 games with Boston last season, the Purdue alum played in 36 games while pulling in 58 rebounds and 114 points (3.2 PPG, 1.6 RPG). So that's not Rookie of the Year efficiency, but Doc Rivers did trust him enough to give Johnson eight minutes a night. He has the experience to step in and be a role player of the Indiana bench.
Fort Wayne is five games into this season. Johnson is the lone Mad Ant averaging double digits in the departments of points and rebounds. In those five games in Fort Wayne, Johnson is bringing down 11.2 rebounds while scoring 11.6 points a game.
The Pacers' frontcourt, meanwhile, have been playing more up and down than a roller coaster, and Roy Hibbert is sitting in the front row of the main attraction. Maybe it's playing under the pressure of him being the focus with Danny Granger being out.
Also, while Ian Mahinmi is good off the bench, he is also inconsistent. Mahinmi is sitting toward the back of the roller coaster ride although he has ridden a peak as of late. No offense to Mahinmi, but what would Indiana basketball fans rather see play in their own backyard: he or JuJuan Johnson?
Johnson doesn't need to bring in the numbers of Hibbert and Paul George, but hopefully the aforementioned two's productivity doesn't crash to numbers that low.
As an aside, if Johnson wants to keep playing basketball in Indiana, three points a game and one rebound won't cut it. His eight minutes of good defense, which is what the Pacers are known for in this 18 games, will be remembered and which is why Johnson should be called up to the Fieldhouse.