Darius Johnson-Odom is making the most of his opportunities to showcase his talents at the NBA Development League. The rookie guard, acquired by the Lakers in this year’s NBA Draft, leads the Los Angeles D-Fenders in terms of scoring with 21.6 points per game, and is also averaging 5.4 assists and 5 rebounds per contest. Johnson-Odom’s scoring numbers are good for 3rd in the D-League, only trailing former Lakers Chris Douglas-Roberts and Andrew Goudelock, who spent Training Camp with the Purple & Gold in 2012.
“DJO” has been the motor for a D-Fenders team that is currently ranked third in the West Division with a 4-4 record, only two games behind the divisional leaders Santa Cruz Warriors. In the D-League, the best teams in each of the three divisions along with the next five best records overall advance to the playoffs, as the 2011-12 champions D-Fenders are currently out of the playoff picture.
Regardless of post-season hopes, players who are sent to the Development League are surely more concerned about proving to the coaches of their corresponding NBA team that they are worth a spot in their main roster, and Johnson-Odom is certainly opening some eyes at the higher level. After a four game losing streak, DJO stepped up to the plate and led the D-Fenders to two straight wins over the Reno Bighorns, averaging 29 points, 7.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2 steals between those two contests. Most importantly, the rookie has a great ratio of +21.12 in terms of efficiency per game, while averaging just 2.88 turnovers per contest and shooting 46.9% from the field (31.6% from beyond the arc) and 84.8% from the free throw line.
The 23-year-old Johnson-Odom was originally a second round pick (55th overall) out of Marquette by the Dallas Mavericks, but had his rights immediately sold to the Lakers. The 6’3, 212 guard impressed the Lakers’ coaching staff in the preseason with his athletic ability and eventually made the final roster into the regular season. DJO appeared in four games as a Laker in limited fashion, until being sent to the D-League in order to receive some much-needed playing time to develop his potential.