Jayce Johnson, Santa Cruz Warriors
The least heralded name on this list, at least for most, is Jayce Johnson. He played four years at Marquette, never cracking double-digit scoring, and was far from NBA radars when he graduated in 2020.
What hurt Johnson’s college game was his lack of classic “big man” contributions to the team. Despite his massive size, he was neither an imposing rim protector nor standout rebounder, which dulled his value, but he’s turned that around in his time with the Santa Cruz Warriors.
He leads the entire G-League in rebounding, having evolved into an impactful interior presence. His length and size on both sides of the glass are skills that Portland could use with Nurkic’s absence, especially when he can finish with this sort of ferocity on the interior.
With players like Ibou Badji and John Butler Jr. either banged up or not ready to step into NBA minutes, Johnson could be an unsung hero for a team that desperately needs a solid inside presence on both ends to complement their guard play.
Again, signing Jayce Johnson or any of the other players on this list wouldn’t save the season for the Blazers, but it gives them a better chance of winning key regular season games and having just a little more depth to get over the hump.