Keith Smart works with James Johnson on his jump shot. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

Read the scouting report on James Johnson and it’ll tell you that there’s work to be done on his jumper.  With the guidance of Keith Smart, the Sacramento Kings forward was doing just that after practice wrapped up last Friday.  This kind of individual attention is just one of the things Johnson appreciates about his new surroundings and new head coach.

I have a lot of bad habits from the previous coaches that I had; they’re nothing like Coach Smart.  I feel like he’s helping my game develop in a way that I haven’t had before.  I’m just appreciative of the opportunity.  He’s breaking old habits about moving too fast or trying to make a quick decision when other coaches said make a quick decision.  So he knows the game, he played the game and he knows what I can do.  He wants me to slow down, penetrate, shoot the open shot, drive and kick and it just feels good.  So right now my confidence level is at an all time high and it can only grow.

The feeling is mutual.  Smart sees untapped potential in Johnson and is working with him to realize it.

Love his intensity in practice. The guy has defensive written on his chest. That’s what he’s going to play and that’s what he’s going to play today. He’s working on his offensive skills as well. I think he likes to put the ball on the floor too quickly because he’s a good passer. I want him to utilize what he sees on the floor first before the dribble, because he has a fantastic first step.

I’ve been very impressed with everything he’s done from the moment he got here talking with him about what it is I think he can accomplish playing for us that will help our team. What he brings to our team is completely different. We have no one else on our roster who can do the things that he does and that’s a huge plus for us. I think him being able to guard positions – a big one all the way down to a four in certain situations – is a very good versatile position to have.