|Senior||6’9″ 205||SG/SF||UNC||23 Yrs. Old|
|16.9 ppg||5.8 rpg||2.4 apg||FG: 50.6%||3 PT: 45.7%|
NBA Comparison: Trevor Ariza
Strengths: Outside Shooting, Efficiency, Size
Weaknesses: Lateral Quickness, Strength
After redshirting during his freshman season at Pittsburgh due to injuries, Johnson played two more seasons for the Panthers with his best year being the 11.9 points per game he put up as a sophomore. As his redshirt sophomore year came to an end, Johnson graduated early in three years, he then elected to transfer somewhere that allowed him more exposure and a chance to win a national championship. North Carolina was his choice over other blue blood programs like Kentucky, with his first season being somewhat average as he put up 12.4 points per game but showed off the potential to be a consistent threat on the wing. His fifth season, but his senior year eligibility wise, was a big step in the right direction where he improved in all facets of the game culminating with his 16.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game before UNC lost to Auburn in the sweet sixteen. The most impressive part of his jump was the increased efficiency when shooting the ball finishing the season shooting it over 50% from the field and 45.7% on 5.8 three point attempts. The ability to shoot the ball with range and consistency makes him a perfect fit as a scoring wing in the league, which should allow him to be able to score as a professional from the start of his career. Johnson joins the list of past and present NBA prospects who hit a growth spurt late in their teen years allowing him to possess good size while still maintaining many of the guard skills he had as a smaller player. Playing point guard at 6’2″ all the way up until his junior season in high school before growing to his current 6’9″ height, he has legitimate guard skills and has only improved as a shooter, leading many teams to like the way his game translates to the professional ranks. There is no doubt that he is a natural scorer and he is one of the most pro ready prospects in this years draft offensively.
On the defensive side of the ball he has shown the ability to get steals, and there is potential especially with his size and length to become a solid defender at the next level. In addition to his defensive potential, as a rebounder from the wing, he should be able to collect boards at a decent rate, although he will not be expected to have nightly double doubles. At times his movement can look a little robotic or rigid, but the same could be said about a player like Klay Thompson, which obviously has not prevented him from having great success in the NBA. Smaller quicker players on both offense and defense can give Johnson trouble, however there are plenty of wings in the league that possess similar athleticism and quickness who will be matched up with him and as long as he figures out switching on pick and rolls or other similar situations, he should be fine in that regard. While driving to the basket is not the strongest part of his game, there are examples of him being able to do so. If he can drive to the basket an average rate as he heads to the next level, to go with his elite ability to shoot the basketball, Johnson should have no trouble finding a role for a team. Athletically he is not elite, but it is more than adequate with his size and length allowing him to finish at the rim, but strength will need to be added to help him be effective in this area of the game. Mainly preferring to catch and shoot or pull up for a jumper off of the dribble, these parts of his game will be seen as bonuses if they are improved with his main production likely to come from the wing. As with many seniors entering their professional career, but even more so due to Johnson being 5 years removed from high school, his age will be seen as a negative for some teams in the first round. You know what you are getting with Johnson and that is valuable, however just how valuable that is will be up to the management for each team.
Here are some examples of his ability to shoot the ball:
This clip gives you an idea that while not an elite athlete, he is able to finish at the rim:
Johnson is currently projected by some as a first round pick and others in the early second round. We believe it is unlikely that he will slip to the second round and should go in the mid to late first round when it is all said and done. His ceiling as a professional is a starter level wing playing both the shooting guard and small forward position, putting up above average numbers on the offensive end of the floor. The worst case scenario for Johnson is that he is unable to shoot the basketball at the efficiency level he has in college, or struggles on defense, leading him to come off of the bench in a back up role capable of putting points on the board when he gets minutes.