Brice Johnson is obviously a highly talented offensive player. The Tar Heels have not been noted for their defensive aptitude this season. Johnson has been a large part of that as he has had his problems on defense. So that leaves the question of is having Johnson on the floor for his offense worth playing 4 on 5 on defense?
Watching a Carolina game it would seem that Johnson scores a lot more than he actually does. A lot of his points come in the form of dunks which are a lot more memorable in people’s minds. He is only averaging 8.9 points per game. One could argue that his athleticism allows him to grab a ton of rebounds for the Heels. He only averages 4.8 in that category. Both of those statistics would go up if Roy Williams allowed him to play more minutes. He is only getting 13.6 minutes per game of playing time. That comes out to 1.5 points per minute. Not bad. However, offense is not where the Tar Heels are lacking. Granted their competition has not been the best thus far but they are averaging nearly 84 points a game. That is good for 4th in the country.
The Heels have been lacking on defense prior to the UNLV game. Johnson has been questionable defensively all season long. The team allows nearly 70 points a game. I am a firm believer in the old saying “Defense wins championships.” To win the ACC, which starts on the 6th against Virginia, the Tar Heels will need to step up their defense. Having Johnson’s offense is not worth his lack of defense at this point. He does not box out and gets beat because of not moving his feet on a fairly consistent basis. There is no doubt that under Williams, Johnson will improve, but until Johnson becomes a more complete package, Williams needs to help out the defensive competence of the team.
Williams’ alternatives to Johnson are Desmond Hubert and Joel James. Hubert has the defense and James has the size that UNC needs now that ACC play is starting. It is not an easy pick for Williams as to who should play the most minutes. At this point, the player that plays should be dictated upon the situation of the game because each of the three has a huge weak point in their basketball skills.