Former Kentucky center Dakari Johnson made his first NBA start Friday night in place of injured Thunder center Steven Adams.
Johnson, a second-round pick for the Thunder in 2015, has played sparingly in the NBA during his professional career. Johnson has been one of the best players in the developmental league the past two years, averaging 15.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
But the former Kentucky standout has been on Oklahoma City’s primary roster this season after Sam Presti dealt backup center Enes Kanter for Carmelo Anthony late in the offseason. With Adams out with a calf contusion, Johnson got his chance to shine on the big stage.
Johnson was a fine role player in his first meaningful NBA minutes (against Clippers C DeAndre Jordan no less) as the Thunder took a 12-point lead with him on the floor. He recorded an assist on a nice pass to Paul George for a corner 3 and missed one shot in 7 minutes.
Johnson was also an effective player in the second quarter. He finished the half with 3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in 15 minutes. He did struggle from the free-throw line (1 of 4) and committed 3 fouls, but overall it was a good half for the ex-Kentucky standout.