Former University of Kentucky center Dakari Johnson scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 99-87 victory against the New York Knicks in a summer league game Monday in Orlando, Fla.
The former Cat, who also had four assists, is doing all he can to make the Thunder’s roster this fall after spending his first two pro seasons in the NBA’s developmental league.
“The coaching staff wants me to expand my game, just try different things, so that’s what we’re doing. That’s what summer league’s for,” he said of handling the ball at the top of the key during Monday’s game.
Johnson said that his time in what is now called the G League has made a difference.
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“It was a great experience,” he said in an interview posted on the Orlando Sentinel’s website. “The gym’s open 24/7. The coaching staff has a plan for you to just develop, and that’s what it’s there for. So I think it really helped improve my game since I left college.”
Johnson, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds in OKC’s summer league opener on Saturday, said he’s a physical player who likes to mix it up inside and his work on the defensive end will be what gets him to the league.
“I know my offense is going to come,” he said, “but the coaching staff really wants me to talk on defense. Just be more active on the defensive end. …
“It’s just day by day. I always can improve. … Just being locked in for the whole game. Sometimes I can stand up straight and not be in position, and that’s what I really have to work on.”