Final NBA Cuts To Take Over D-League
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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With the 2012-13 NBA season fully underway, the start of the D-League season is not far off. The 2012 D-League Draft was recently held and amongst the top three picks were JaJuan Johnson, Andrew Goudelock and Justin Harper, who were amongst the final cuts from their respective NBA teams. HOOPSWORLD caught up with all of them to talk about the next chapter in their careers and their approach as they head to the D-League.
JaJuan Johnson Bringing Defensive Mindset To Mad Ants
After being traded by the Boston Celtics to the Houston Rockets this offseason and subsequently being cut, Johnson bounced back quickly in a big way by going number one overall to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
“Obviously, with that comes a lot of responsibilities,” Johnson said to HOOPSWORLD. “I have to be the one to work the hardest and do everything right. I’m definitely willing to put in the time and hard work, not only to be successful myself, but help the team win.
“I’m very prepared. I’m really excited.”
Johnson’s calling card throughout his career has been his scoring ability, but he’s really focused on the other end of the floor as he gets ready to take his game to the D-League.
“It’s one of those things where I was thinking I just need to keep working defensively,” Johnson said. “That’s the biggest thing. I think I had a few bad breaks here and there, but the biggest thing is just staying aggressive. Everything else will fall into place.
“I think just holding down the post defensively will be a big thing. Obviously, offensively I’ve showed I can score in a lot of different ways, inside and outside and just how hard I run the floor and rebound.”
Johnson played under Kevin Garnett, one of the greatest defensive presences in the history of the game, during his time with the Celtics.
Andrew Goudelock Ready To Show What He Learned
After spending the first year of his professional career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Andrew Goudelock came up just short of making the team this season. However, during his year-plus with the team he had the chance to learn from two future Hall of Famers in Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, from whom he soaked up as much information as he could.
“I learned so much,” Goudelock said to HOOPSWORLD. “Even this year before getting cut I learned a lot. I don’t think there’s one thing I can pinpoint on. I know the mental aspect of the game all together is the most difficult part of playing basketball. If I can just keep working on my game the on-court stuff will come with hard work and dedication. If you don’t have your focus right, though, everything can go out the window.”
Goudelock was drafted second overall by the Sioux Falls Skyforce, for whom he expects to play both guard positions, although he’s surprisingly grown accustomed to one in particular.
“I think I’ll play a little bit of both,” Goudelock said. “I’ve grown accustomed to liking the point guard position a little bit more than I like the shooting guard position, which is kind of odd for me. I think I might be playing that a little bit more depending on what the coaches want me to do there. I think being a versatile player who can play two position is a great weapon for me. I’m going to continue to do what I do and add other pieces to my game.
“I’m probably never going to be a Steve Nash type of point guard where I’m doing the flashy passes. That’s probably never going to be me. The thing they told me to do and I kept hearing them say is get everyone in the set, get everyone settled and once the ball comes back around to you nobody has a position everyone is just playing basketball. I think I can I can be a matchup problem at either position because when the twos are on me they’re a little bit slower. They’re taller than me but they’re not able to stay with me. And when I have a smaller guard on me I’m able to get my shots up even easier.”
Goudelock will be surrounded by some quality weapons as the Skyforce also have former NBA draft picks Jarvis Varnado, Demetirc Nichols and veteran Troy Hudson on their roster.
Justin Harper Excited To Get Back To Work
When he came out of Richmond in 2011, Justin Harper was pegged as one of the players with the most room to improve in the draft. However, he didn’t get that chance with the Orlando Magic as they were in win-now mode last season. With the Idaho Stampede, who invested the third overall pick in him, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to make up for the experience he missed out on last year.
“It’s exciting man,” Harper said to HOOPSWORLD. “It’s a blessing just to be called at the time I was. You have to look at it as another opportunity to get back to work.
“I think it’s going to be good. You have to have confidence going in, especially when the team believes in you and takes you high. They have expectations and you have to go from there. And, have even higher expectations for yourself and be ready to work.”
During his time with the Magic, Harper learned the importance of taking care of his body and having a strong-willed, professional approach to his game. The change in his frame from where he was at in college is evident and helped groom him into the growing-popular stretch four position.
“I’m more comfortable as a stretch four,” Harper said. “I think that’s my natural position, but I’ve obviously played some three. I got a lot more experience at the three and I became more comfortable with that. But, I’m most comfortable at the stretch four position.
“You have to go out there and be aggressive, I want to show that I really want to belong. You have to go out and showcase that; you get to that by all the hard work you put in and will continue to put in. That’s what I want to prove.”
Christian Eyenga (Texas Legends) and Travis Leslie (Santa Cruz Warriors) were amongst the other first round picks who were selected in the first round. Click here to check out the entire draft!
HOOPSWORLD will be amping up their D-League coverage during the 2012-13 campaign with bi-weekly features, video interviews and inside looks into the league that currently has 87 alumni on NBA rosters! The regular season starts in late November.