Adelaide 36ers coach Conner Henry has scoffed at the notion Daniel Johnson isn't a natural leader after the new Sixers captain led from the front again in an epic double-overtime win over South East Melbourne Phoenix.
The richly gifted but softly-spoken Johnson captained Adelaide two years ago but didn't reapply for the role at the beginning of last season, replaced by co-captains Brendan Teys and Kevin White.
This year he heads the 36ers' new-look leadership group and has not put a foot wrong.
"There's an impression out there that somehow DJ's not a leader. I haven't found that at all," Henry said.
"I asked him to be a leader along with Brendan and Dan Dillion in our leadership group.
"From day one, DJ has embraced being the leader of the group.
"DJ is a quiet leader who knows my system probably better than I do.
"He can help guys, he doesn't have to be a big voice or carry a big stick.
"He's been great so far and has really embraced it."
Johnson followed his 27-point haul in Friday's big loss to Melbourne United with 33 against the Phoenix, his 60-point opening round aggregate the best in the NBL since 1998.
"He's been great for a long time," Henry said."It's nice to know we can run plays through him because I think he's got an elite basketball mind."
When Johnson fouled out late in the fourth quarter, the 36ers needed a new talisman.
Enter 18-year-old Josh Giddey.
Well held in the first three quarters and responsible for the errant pass that led to Yanni Wetzell's halfcourt bomb on the halftime buzzer, Giddey had 13 points, eight boards and six assists from the fourth term onwards.
"You could look that he almost had a triple double, but he was much more locked in on the defensive end, much more physical, tagging guys off of deep roles," Henry said.
"That part of the game is starting to come for him and that's what was impressive for me."
Australian Associated Press