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'It's been a dog fight for me' | Spurs' Alize Johnson on lessons from former Spur DeRozan and his basketball journey

The newest member of the Spurs is looking to make his mark on the league.

SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs recently inked forward Alize Johnson to a one-year deal at $2 million and he'll be looking to finally find an NBA home.

Johnson in his four-year NBA career has played for the Bulls, Nets, Pacers, Pelicans, and Wizards but his stint with the Bulls allowed him to learn what it takes to make it in the pros from former Spur, DeMar DeRozan.

"I was with Chicago for the year and it was a great experience," Johnson said to Ozark Sports Zone. "Being around those guys like DeMar, Zach [Lavine], Vooch [Nikola Vucevic], those guys who've been in it for a while." 

What better player to learn from on how to be a pro at the NBA level than DeRozan who defined professionalism on and off the court as he demonstrated during his time in San Antonio.

"Seeing how they are as pros, taking care of their bodies every day and trying to maintain, staying in the league, just goes to show me how hard it is to be there," he said. "I took as much as I could in and tried to relate it to my game and my everyday living so that I could be the best professional I could be."

The 26-year-old averaged 1.8 points per game, 2.3 rebounds, and shot 52 percent from the field in 16 games last season with the Bulls.

His best season came in the 2020-21 campaign when Johnson averaged 5.2 points per game and 5.0 rebounds.

Now getting a chance with the Spurs, Johnson is looking for an NBA home instead of being a journeyman in his young NBA career.

"That's something that I'm looking forward to, just getting back to the everyday grind in the NBA and trying to make something happen," said Johnson.

Credit: AP
New Orleans Pelicans forward Alize Johnson (24) dribbles in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets in New Orleans, Sunday, March 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

It's been a grind for the newest member of the Spurs who is looking to make his mark on the league.

That "never give up" mentality has served the 2018 second-round pick well. It has given him an edge to keep striving and he shows no signs of slowing down.

"It's been a dog fight for me since I got drafted, a second-round pick," he said. "I'm going to continue to just keep putting in work and find a way to make my name relevant and stay relevant in the league."

And it starts in San Antonio where he could see minutes with the Spurs. 

The franchise is undergoing a complete rebuild and is looking for players to build with or to use in trade scenarios that could arise next season.

Either way, Johnson will make the best of the opportunity he has with the Spurs.

"I've already had a tough road playing basketball, so there's nothing that fazes me," he said. "I know I got to go out there and beat the odds and I'm okay with that. I've done it over and over again."

Twitter: @KENS5, @JeffGSpursKENS5 

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