James Johnson is his normal charasmatic self at Dundas Square, where he’s happily taking photos with fans that pass along the streets of Toronto. He’s helping promote “Blast Motion,” a revolutionary technology that helps an athlete, just like himself, capture their metrics, analyze them, and then later improve. With his positive mind-set directed towards another Toronto Raptors season, Johnson takes the time to discuss the future ahead for the squad up north.
How do you find the off-season moves the Raptors have made?
Johnson: “I like them, the office is always going to make the decision they feel is best to make their team win. And it’s our job as a team to come together and play with each other.”
As a small forward, how do you feel about the acquisition of DeMarre Carroll moving forward?
Johnson: “He’s another glue-guy, another defender. He’s going to be a good guy to keep the pace with, knowing that he also brings toughness. And he knows what it takes to make it past the first round, so with that experience, hopefully he can teach us a bit.”
Last season you were known as one of the Raptors’ most reliable defenders and rebounders. How do you look to improve your game for this up-coming season?
Johnson: “I’m just going to play my game, play my role, and continue to have no complaints on this team.”
You being well known for your grit-and-grind style of play, do you think you’ll be playing some minutes at the power forward position?
Johnson: “I hope so. I mean as long as I’m playing, I don’t care where I’m playing. I just want to help our team win, and if that means sitting on the bench and cheering, I’ll do that as everyone saw.”
Right now the Raptors are looking to become an Eastern Conference power-house amongst teams like the Cavaliers, the Bulls, and Hawks. How will you, and your team prepare for that challenge?
Johnson: “We’re already on the right steps. I feel like we took a couple steps back at the end of last year, but that was last year. I feel like everyone is hungrier, everyone went and worked as hard as they could this summer. We have a bitter taste in our mouths right now. But I feel like we’re already up there, we just have to show it.”
Speaking of the future. How are rooks Delon Wright and Norman Powell doing?
Johnson: “I haven’t seen them since summer league. But from what I saw during summer league, I know that they’re going to be good guys. They still have a work to do, just like the rest of us when we first got here.”
And how about Bruno (Caboclo), how is he progressing?
Johnson: “Man, I love Bruno’s game. I feel like he’s gotten stronger, he’s been working well with Alex McKechnie. You know he’s been working hard this whole summer, so I just feel like we have to give him a shot.”