Dick Vitale of ESPN recently put together a list of some big impact players expected to return for next season from injuries or other issues. Among them? Pitt guard/forward Durand Johnson:
Pittsburgh was a different team after wing Durand Johnson, an outstanding shooter, suffered a torn ACL. The absence of Johnson put more pressure on other Panthers such as Lamar Patterson last season. Johnson is a 3-point threat who has been working out. He is expected back for the start of the season, and that's a positive for coach Jamie Dixon.
I've been pretty critical of Johnson many times. While able to knock down shots, statistically, he's just not been all that efficient while shooting the ball. He's often capable of getting hot, but equally capable of being erratic. Overall, his 40.5% shooting from the field and sub-34% shooting from three-point range last year before his injury weren't all that great.
That said, you really have to look a little deeper on Johnson when it comes to what he brings to the team.
Johnson hasn't been all that accurate much of the time, but his ability to catch fire is what's important to Pitt. Teams know that he can knock down shots from beyond the arc if left open and he's not afraid to shoot. For that reason, opposing players have to respect him and that can open up opportunities for other players and also create a bit more space on the court.
If nothing else, having Johnson out there gives Pitt a shooting threat and as long as he doesn't take the team out of games with too many performances like those against Penn State (2-7 from the field), Youngstown State (1-7), Cincinnati (1-5), or Albany (1-7), he's a good asset to have. You might not be crazy with some of his shots, but Pitt is a better team with him on it.
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