Daniel Johnson (basketball)

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Daniel Johnson
No. 21 – Adelaide 36ers
Position Centre / Power forward
League NBL
Personal information
Born (1988-04-03) 3 April 1988 (age 29)
Carnarvon, Western Australia
Nationality Australian
Listed height 212 cm (6 ft 11 in)
Listed weight 108 kg (238 lb)
Career information
High school Willetton (Perth, Western Australia)
College Pepperdine (2007–2008)
NBA draft 2008 / Undrafted
Playing career 2008–present
Career history
2008–2010 Melbourne Tigers
2010–2014 Adelaide 36ers
2014 Piratas de Quebradillas
2014–2015 Stelmet Zielona Góra
2015–present Adelaide 36ers
2015 Wellington Saints
2016 Santeros de Aguada
2017 Petrochimi Bandar Imam
Career highlights and awards

Daniel Johnson (born 3 April 1988) is an Australian professional basketball player for the Adelaide 36ers of the National Basketball League (NBL). Standing 6'11½" (212 cm) tall, Johnson's primary position is centre, but with a strong mid and long range shooting ability, he is equally effective at playing power forward. Johnson, a three-time Adelaide 36ers Club MVP (2012–14), has previously had stints in Puerto Rico, Poland, New Zealand and Iran.

Early life[edit]

Born in Carnarvon, Western Australia[1] to parents Craig and Carolyn, Johnson moved to Perth as a youth with his family (he has three siblings: Josh, Courtnee and Jess) where he attended Willetton Senior High School, graduating in 2005. From there, he accepted a two-year scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport, where in 2006, he helped the program's basketball team win the inaugural King Club International Cup,[2][3] en route to being voted the tournament's Most Valuable Player after averaging 22 points, six rebounds, one assist, two blocks and a steal over five games.[4] He represented Australia at the 2007 FIBA Under-19 World Championship in Serbia where he helped the Emus to a fifth-place finish with an 8–1 tournament record, as he averaged 3.9 points and 2.6 rebounds in nine games.

In the fall of 2007, Johnson moved to the United States to play college basketball for Pepperdine University. In 2007–08, he played in 21 games for the Waves, averaging 9.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.[5]

Professional career[edit]

Melbourne Tigers[edit]

Johnson returned to Australia in 2008 and signed with the Melbourne Tigers for the 2008–09 NBL season. He played in 48 games over two seasons for the Tigers as backup centre behind team captain, 7'0" (213 cm) Australian Boomers veteran and former NBA player Chris Anstey. DJ averaged 7.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.4 blocks per game in limited court time with the Tigers and missed out on an NBL championship in 2009 when the Tigers went down three games to two in the grand finals series against cross-town rivals the South Dragons. During his time with the Tigers, he also played for their junior team in the Big V competition.

Adelaide 36ers[edit]

Following the 2009–10 season which saw the Tigers fall to sixth place on the ladder and miss the playoffs, the out-of-contract Johnson was recruited to the Adelaide 36ers by their new coach (and former head coach of the AIS) Marty Clarke to be the team's backup centre. Before joining the 36ers, Johnson returned home to Perth where he helped the Willetton Tigers win the 2010 SBL championship.

Johnson appeared in all 28 games for the 36ers in the 2010–11 NBL season, averaging 9.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Over the first 25 games of the 2010–11 season, Johnson had no starts and averaged 8.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, despite many fans feeling that the poor performing team would have been better served with Johnson at starting centre and team captain Adam Ballinger in his usual position of Power forward where he could utilise his outside shooting more often. Just 2 minutes into the third last game of the season against the Melbourne Tigers at the Adelaide Arena, Ballinger suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Johnson came on as his replacement and played the rest of the game and was near unstoppable, scoring a career-high 31 points and grabbing 13 rebounds and 3 steals in a dominating performance (his first NBL career double-double), although it wasn't enough as a Bennie Lewis three-pointer on the buzzer gave the Tigers a 79–76 win. With Ballinger on the sidelines, Johnson subsequently started the last two games of the season, and over the final three contests, he averaged 23.3 points and 12 rebounds per game proving that he had the skill to be one of the NBL's dominant big men. Although he only had limited court time until Ballinger's injury, Johnson went on to finish runner-up in the 36ers Club MVP voting for the season behind Ballinger.

With Ballinger still suffering the effects of his ankle injury, Johnson became the 36ers first choice centre for the 2011–12 NBL season, though the team started with three straight losses. Both Johnson and Adelaide came good in Round 4 with a 100–92 win over the Perth Wildcats. Johnson top scored with 22 points at 75% shooting, grabbed 6 rebounds and had 1 block and 1 steal in 31 minutes. For his effort in leading the previously winless 36ers to victory over the previously unbeaten Wildcats, Johnson was named NBL Player of the Week, the first 36er to win the award since Adam Ballinger in December 2009.[6]

At the end of the 2011–12 season, Johnson averaged 16.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.0 blocks in 30.8 minutes per game, numbers that were almost double his career averages in every category. He was subsequently named the NBL's Most Improved Player for the season and earned All-NBL Third Team honours. Johnson became the fourth 36ers player to win the league's Most Improved Player award following Mark Bradtke (1988), Scott Ninnis (1993) and Chris Blakemore (1994). He also won the Mark Davis Trophy for the being named the 36ers Club MVP.[7]

On 28 March 2012, Johnson re-signed with the 36ers on a three-year deal.[7]

Following the off-season signing of former 36ers player, 7'1" (216 cm) centre Luke Schenscher, Johnson moved primarily to power forward, allowing him to utilise his outside game more often (Johnson hit 17-of-45 three-point shots in 2011–12, leading the team in three-point percentage with 37.8%) and giving the team its own version of the 'Twin Towers' for the 2012–13 NBL season.[8]

On 6 December 2012, due to an injury to Perth Wildcats centre Matthew Knight, Johnson was selected as the starting centre for the South All-Stars in the 2012 NBL All-Star Game, which was played for the first time since the 2007–08 season. Johnson joined 36ers teammates Adam Gibson, Jason Cadee and Stephen Weigh (selected to the South Stars bench) in the game which was played at the Adelaide Arena on 22 December. Johnson was the second highest scorer in the game with 21 points, as he helped the South to a 134–114 win over the North All-Stars.

A mid-season injury which sidelined Schenscher saw Johnson moved to centre for the 36ers and he became the NBL's leading rebounder in 2012–13 with 8.1 per game. He was fifth in the league in scoring with 16.2 points per game and was rewarded for his efforts by being selected to the All-NBL Second Team. On 28 March 2013, Johnson won his second straight Mark Davis Trophy as the Adelaide 36ers MVP for the 2012–13 season.

Johnson's improvement continued in 2013–14. With Schenscher still on the comeback after his back injury and now in a bench role, Johnson again led the 36ers in scoring with 19.6 points per game and rebounding with 7.0 per game, while his defence improved under new coach Joey Wright. This saw Johnson selected to the All-NBL First Team as a power forward. Johnson was a major contributor to Adelaide's rise from the bottom of the NBL ladder to second at the end of the 2013–14 regular season, culminating in the club's first Grand Final appearance since the 2001–02 season. He went on to win his third straight Mark Davis Trophy as Club MVP for the 2013–14 season.[9]

During the 2014 off-season, Johnson played for Piratas de Quebradillas of the Baloncesto Superior Nacional.[10][11]

Stelmet Zielona Góra[edit]

On 24 July 2014, Johnson signed a two-year deal with Stelmet Zielona Góra of the Polish Basketball League.[12][13] However, on 18 January 2015, he parted ways with the club.[14] In 16 games for Zielona Góra, he averaged 5.6 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.

Return to 36ers[edit]

On 21 January 2015, Johnson returned to the Adelaide 36ers, re-signing with the club for the rest of the 2014–15 NBL season.[15][16] He played in seven regular season games to finish the home and away schedule, before playing in the 36ers' 2–0 semi-final series defeat at the hands of the eventual champions, the New Zealand Breakers. In nine games, he averaged 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 blocks per game.[17]

During the 2015 off-season, Johnson played for the Wellington Saints of the New Zealand NBL. He helped the Saints reach the grand final where they lost to the Southland Sharks. In 11 games for the Saints, he averaged 16.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.[18]

In March 2015, Johnson was admitted to hospital and underwent multiple surgeries after suffering from a severe bout of Pneumonia.[19] On 15 May 2015, Johnson re-signed with the 36ers on a three-year deal.[20] In 2015–16, he averaged 15.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 28 games for the 14–14 36ers. His 9.3 rebounds per game were enough to see him lead the NBL in rebounding for the second time, having previously done so in 2012–13.

In March 2016, Johnson joined Santeros de Aguada of the Baloncesto Superior Nacional, returning to Puerto Rico for a second stint before returning to Adelaide in time for the 2016–17 NBL season.[21]

Johnson helped the 36ers win the minor premiership in 2016–17 and subsequently earned All-NBL First Team honours for the second time in his career. In March 2017, Johnson signed with Petrochimi Bandar Imam of the Iranian Basketball Super League.[22]

National team career[edit]

Johnson's form for the 36ers in winning the NBL's Most Improved Player award in 2011–12 saw him selected to the Australian Boomers training camp for the 2012 London Olympic Games, though he ultimately missed a spot on the team with the selectors and coaches (who also included his then Adelaide 36ers coach Marty Clarke as one of the Boomers assistants) preferring the more experienced Aleks Marić and David Andersen.


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