James Johnson has a black belt and owns a 21-0 record as a kickboxer. We'll find out soon enough whether Johnson can play in the NBA. The Bulls made the Wake Forest forward the 16th pick overall in Thursday's NBA draft.
The Bulls also took USC forward Taj Gibson with the 26th overall pick, adding to their frontcourt depth. The Bulls did not solve their need for a low-post scorer, but I didn't expect them to in a draft that most experts agree was short on impact players.
Johnson averaged 15 points and 8.5 rebounds as a sophomore at Wake last year. From what I've seen of him, he has a pretty good offensive repetoire. He can face up and shoot, and he can create his own shot off the bounce. At 6-foot-9, he can probably be a back-up player at both forward positions as a rookie. I don't expect big things from Johnson, but I hope he's good enough to force Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas to work a little bit harder for their minutes.
Bulls GM Gar Forman has spoke about the need to upgrade overall team defense. Maybe the 6-9 Gibson can give them a boost in that area. He was the Pac-10's Defensive Player of the Year last season, and he ranks third on the conference's all-time list in blocked shots. I'd be stunned, though, if Gibson is a factor offensively at the pro level.
Neither of these picks gets you overly excited, but neither of them are bad choices either. At the very least, the Bulls should have a rotation player for next year in Johnson.