Dallas Mavericks Defensive Player of the Game candidate: 6. James Johnson
Cauley-Stein proved that you don’t need to play 30 minutes to win the belt. He had two steals and two blocks in just 19 against the Pacers on Wednesday night. James Johnson had two blocks in 26 minutes versus Indiana.
Johnson is averaging 2.2 steals and 1.4 blocks per 36 minutes, which is the best-combined mark on the team among regular rotation players. The 33-year-old veteran can guard the elite forwards in the league, and his toughness is unquestioned. Giannis Antetokounmpo attempted to take Johnson off the dribble on Jan. 15. See the results below.https://videos.nba.com/nba/pbp/media/2021/01/15/0022000182/538/0d0421ea-25c4-e4c0-f54c-b75cc23c439b_1280x720.mp4
The veteran forward uses his quick hands to create havoc. Multiple plays like that could see Johnson take home the Defensive Player of the Game belt on any night.
Why he ranks here is the numbers game of the Mavericks rotation when healthy. Johnson averaged just 14.9 minutes a night through the first eight games, and that was without Kristaps Porzingis in the lineup. He could be in for a smaller role when Dallas is at full strength. Expect Johnson to win the belt a couple of times this season, but he will not lead the team.
Next: No. 5