2014 NBA Draft: Getting to know Nuggets prospect Nick Johnson, Arizona

Nick Johnson out of Arizona. - Ethan Miller

We continue on with our predraft interviews, this time the Nuggets brought in an Arizona Wildcat that experienced a lot of success in college.

Nick Johnson was a bit of a combo guard at Arizona. Last season he averaged 33 minutes a night and put up 16.3 points on 43.2% shooting from the field (including 36.7% from deep on 4.4 attempts and 78.1% from the foul line on 4.9 attempts per), 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.1 steals.

He did a bit of everything for the Wildcats on both ends of the floor and his athleticism is quite impressive. At the end of his Nuggets workout today, Johnson (who has been in dunk contests at 6'3") attempted a few different dunks off self-lob-bounce passes - he didn't get any of the few attempts to fall, but got close and the moves were sweet. Check out Johnson's draft combine interview to get a taste for his personality.


Now, that's Johnson the player - let's try to get to know a bit more about him away from the floor.

Johnson on the Nuggets:

"They're a great team," said Johnson. "They had a lot of injuries this year, but they are young and very talented. Nate Robinson, one of the guys I've watched a lot, he was huge the last couple seasons. They'll be a force to be reckoned with in the West, Ty Lawson - when he's healthy - he's one of the best guards in the world. They're definitely a good team."

Nate Timmons: When I was watching highlights of you, I was seeing a lot of lob passes and I was thinking, "Wow, he throws a nice lob pass." But then I quickly realized it was you finishing the lobs and not throwing them! People say you're a natural playmaker, but it's a lot of hard work right?

Nick Johnson: As far as the lob catching, I honestly didn't work on that at all really. My dad (Jumping Joey Johnson, a 50" vertical!), he was fortunate enough to be a high jumper and he passed it along to me. But it's definitely something I want to showcase more in the NBA. I think the floor is a lot more spread in the league, a lot more shooters, so, I just want to expand on [attacking the rim] and show a little bit more.

I have an older brother and all I wanted to do when I was younger was beat him [in any sport or game] and I had to work for that. And I think that has really carried me as I've grown up, like I said - progress every year and get better. I try to take little pieces from my game each summer and get better at it.

Timmons: What kind of hobbies do you have besides basketball?

Johnson: I like deep-sea fishing. My dad, my brother, and I try to find a week or so every summer to get a trip in: L.A., San Diego, Mexico, and this year we're going to the [Florida] Keys.

Timmons: What's the best fish you've ever caught?

Johnson: Probably a Mahi-Mahi. Hopefully I can get a Sailfish or a Marlin this summer.

Timmons: Well, we don't have deep-sea fishing here, but there are fishermen on this team. Darrell Arthur is big fisherman.

Johnson: Oh really?

Timmons: How about an exercise that's maybe not basketball related?

Johnson: To stay in shape it's pretty much basketball, I'll use my workouts to keep me in shape. I love playing football, you know, throwing the ball around. At Arizona we actually had a few flag football games. We'd go on the intramural field and play with the team and just have fun. I played football when I was younger and that's probably 1B in my love for sports.

Timmons: What position(s) did you play?

Johnson: Quarterback, wide receiver ... every position honestly.

Timmons: So, just football and basketball growing up?

Johnson: I played soccer and other sports when I was young. For the most part, it was football and basketball. I stuck to basketball as soon as I got into high school, so I really focused on that.

Timmons: It won't be hidden if you tell us, but do you have any hidden talents?

Johnson: I can sing.

Timmons: Are you one of those guys that will sing in your car?

Johnson: Yeah, Usher, that's my favorite, any old school Usher.

Timmons: What's on your iPod right now?

Johnson: To be honest, I don't have songs on my phone right now. I used to, but then Coach [Sean] Miller told us we couldn't warm up with music ... headphones ... so I got out of it. But if I'm in the car I'll listen to some J. Cole, Drake, and stuff like that.

Timmons: Are you a movie guy?

Johnson: I love movies. I've probably seen every movie that has come out in the past three years, that's good.

Timmons: How about a favorite actor?

Johnson: Denzel, I mean obviously ... he's the greatest.

Timmons: Which one of his do you like? Probably Training Day?

Johnson: Honestly, I didn't ... Training Day grew on. [I liked] John Q.

Timmons: How about a favorite actress?

Johnson: Jennifer Aniston, she's nice on the eyes.

Timmons: Are you a cook at all?

Johnson: Oh no, no. I had my brother [Chris Johnson] and our center, Kaleb Tarczewski, they were my roommates and they cooked for us - they were our chefs. We stayed out of the kitchen and they made all of our food.

Timmons: What could we find you eating on cheat days?

Johnson: I love breakfast. That's my favorite meal of the day, so pancakes ... french toast. And then candy, I love candy, I love sour candy ... any kind of sour candy, I'll eat it.

Timmons: Did you have any favorite players growing up? They don't have to be basketball players.

Johnson: Michael Jordan, he was the biggest one. My favorite player when I got into basketball was Kobe Bryant. I just loved his work, the work that he did, I mean every year he added something new to his game and I really respected that as a hard worker.

My uncle [Dennis Johnson, 1979 NBA Finals MVP] is a big influence on my game. I feel like I have a pretty similar game to him and he did great things. He's definitely one that I look up to.


Timmons: What's something you really love about basketball?

Johnson: I love to compete. I've always been a winner, I've won since I was a little kid and going up through high school and college. Just competing, whether it be in a game or in workouts like this: one-on-one, two-on-two, just competing.

Timmons: Where are you going to watch the NBA draft and who are you going to be watching it with?

Johnson: I'm not sure where I'm watching the NBA draft yet, but I'll be with my family, my girlfriend, my agent, and a few close friends.

***

A big big thanks to Nick for taking the time to chat. He had a very welcoming personality and was easy to talk to. Seems like he'd be a welcomed addition to any locker room and I'll wish him the best on his NBA journey.


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