Nick Johnson, DJ's nephew, works out for Celtics

Nick Johnson, DJ's nephew, works out for Celtics
June 6, 2014, 3:15 pm
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WALTHAM, Mass. - Former Arizona guard Nick Johnson has lined up several workouts leading up to the June 26 NBA draft.

Still, the one he had recently in Boston, regardless of what team drafts him, will always be special.

Johnson is the nephew of Celtics great Dennis Johnson, who was an integral part of two (1984 and 1986) of the Celtics' 17 NBA titles. Johnson also won an NBA title with the Seattle Supersonics in 1979 when he was the Finals MVP.

Nick Johnson, 21, wasn't even born when Johnson played and, at the time of his uncle's death in 2007, was not as serious about basketball as he is now.

But Nick Young was around his uncle long enough to understand how special it was to be a Celtic.

"Play for a great franchise like this would be a dream come true," Nick Johnson said.

If there's one thing Nick Johnson has learned already, is that what you want and what you receive in the NBA are not one and the same.

"I'm a basketball player," he said. "I would love to get drafted by the Celtics. Anybody who is going to take me, it's going to be a dream come true."

Johnson is expected to be selected in the second round, which is when Dennis Johnson was drafted in 1976.

The two have more in common than the same bloodline.

Nick Johnson is a 6-foot-3 combo guard with off-the-charts leaping ability. At the Chicago pre-draft combine, Johnson's maximum vertical leap was 41.5 inches, third-best among players participating.

He says he has jumped 47 inches before, adding that Arizona's long season coupled with several hours of preparing for the combine left him a little fatigued when it came time to test his vertical leap in Chicago.

"It's a grind," Johnson said. "But if I can jump 41 1/2 [now], just imagine when I'm fresh."

No one knows for sure how high Dennis Johnson soared in his prime, but he came into the NBA in 1976 and showcased an above-the-rim game in Seattle that was, in a word, impressive.

But over time, Dennis developed into a solid point guard whose strength as a player remained on the defensive end of the floor.

In fact, Dennis Johnson is widely considered one of the greatest defensive players of all-time, a fact that's hard to dispute when you consider he was named to the NBA's all-defensive first (six times) or second (three times) team nine years in a row.

It's far too soon to tell if Nick Johnson will make a similar impact defensively in the NBA, but there's no mistaking that like his uncle, he takes tremendous pride in his play on that side of the ball.

"I can come in from Day One and defend," Nick Johnson said. "That's a big thing in the NBA. I think that's one of the biggest things I can do, and continue to grow in my offensive game."

Just like his uncle.