Playing for a rebuilding team can take a lot out of a player. Wesley Johnson has seen plenty of that in his career between Minnesota, Phoenix and the Lakers. Now that he’s with a contender in the Clippers, he sees the difference clearly. Johnson spoke at training camp about last season’s Lakers team, which featured a lot of unproven young players jostling for attention.
From the Orange County Register‘s Janis Carr:
“You would go out there and want to play the right way, but everyone wanted to prove themselves,” Johnson said as the Clippers wrapped up their brief training camp at UC Irvine.
“So nobody really knew what was going on. Nobody ever knew, so it was hard for anyone to come in and get into a good rhythm or flow. Nobody was playing together.”
So when free agency rolled around this past summer, Johnson knew he didn’t want to stick around. Then the Clippers called. Not once. Not twice.
What Johnson talked about is a downside to a team without a lot of structure. That environment can be a great opportunity for young players to prove themselves without a lot of expectations, but if that’s everybody’s goal, it can lead to bad habits on the court. That’s why it’s important even for rebuilding teams to have some veteran presence to keep things from going off the rails.