Should Raptors bring back David Johnson after quiet 2021-22?

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 11: David Johnson #13 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 11: David Johnson #13 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors got plenty of production out of their rookie class last year, as Scottie Barnes won Rookie of the Year and Justin Champagnie was a fine rotation player for some parts of the season. David Johnson, however, played such a small role that one has to wonder if he will return next season.

Johnson was signed to a two-way contract despite getting picked just one selection after rotation member Dalano Banton. Due to bad luck, injuries, and COVID-19, Johnson only saw a handful of minutes in the NBA and did not record any stats. That’s not ideal for someone that came onto a team in need of guard depth.

Remaking the backcourt will be one of the main goals that Masai Ujrii and the front office will try to accomplish. Considering all of the trade rumors that are springing up around former first-round pick Malachi Flynn, Toronto has even less of an attachment to Johnson.

Is there a benefit to keeping Johnson, who is still just 21 years old, on the roster next year? Johnson has skills that are worth developing, but Toronto will need to ask themselves if their second-round pick is developmentally sound enough to contribute to the NBA roster at some point next year.

Will the Toronto Raptors keep David Johnson?

Johnson averaged 11.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game in the G League last season, but some of those numbers were less impressive than they seem. He shot just 41% from the field and 32% from 3-point range, showing that he didn’t make the strides many expected after his iffy college career.

Johnson had some nice moments in the G League this season, but his efficiency issues and inability to establish himself as a quality distributor will loom large. Right now, he’s either an off-ball guard who shoots 32% from deep or a point guard with 2.5 assists per game. Either way, Johnson clearly needs more G League reps. Is Mississauga the place for them?

The best argument for keeping Johnson revolves around the idea that he wasn’t given a fair shot. His injuries and 905 time made it difficult for him to impress Nick Nurse. A strong Summer League and preseason might be enough to convince Nurse that he is an NBA-level player at this stage.

Johnson has more than enough talent to become a quality NBA player eventually. Unfortunately, he may need a change of scenery. The Raptors will have a whole new backcourt, and Johnson likely won’t be a part of it.

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