Sophomore, Wake Forest
NBA Position: SF/PF
H: 6’8, W: 235 lbs, Age: 22
Johnson plays PF for Wake Forest, but he has a SF skills. His body type lends itself more towards the SF position in the NBA with the ability to play PF in a small, up-tempo lineup. While his athleticism will not stand out in the NBA, it won’t hold him back either. Whether he spends his time at SF or PF will determine how quick he’ll feel in the NBA as he’ll outquick most PFs and probably be mediocre in speed vs SFs.
Johnson’s sick ball handling sets him apart from his peers especially given that he’s more adept with both hands than the majority of guards reviewed. He loves to push the ball and can play the ball handler or finisher role on the fast break which is a rare trait for a big man, and his handle allows him to aggressively attack the basket taking opponents off the dribble with ease.
Johnson shows potential as a jumper shooter, but unlike many college players, he doesn’t fall in love with his jumper and prefers to attack the basket and force the issue at the rim. He still needs work fine tuning his jump shot, adding consistency and range. One small red flag on his attack skills is the lack of free throw attempts for someone who drives as much as Johnson does.
As a passer, Johnson completes a fair share of highlight reel worthy attempts to his opponent flashing nice court vision on feeds into the post and alley-oops, however, he also makes a fair amount of turnovers and sports a low assist rate which could be viewed as a red flag statistically. Despite having more turnovers than assists, Johnson clearly has potential to be a very good passer at the next level.
As a defender, Johnson is strong and doesn’t get pushed around in the post. However, he lacks focus at times and will give up plays because of it. He does a nice job defending the screen and roll and making guards work hard to get around him on a switch and can effectively defend on the perimeter and interior when he puts his mind to it.
His rebounding is merely adequate in college. While not horrible, college big men who go on to be NBA big men should dominate the glass and Johnson didn’t though as someone who projects as a tweener this shouldn’t be viewed as much of a red flag, but as a pure PF he’d be giving up something there vs his peers.
It will be interesting to see how Johnson measures out at pre-draft camp. If he measures at a legit 6’8 in shoes then he can probably play effectively as a small PF. If he measures out at a legit 6’7 in shoes then he’s going to play more as a SF or need to be in a heavy up-tempo offense. He’s only a sophomore, but he’s as old as most seniors which raises question about where his ceiling is and whether you judge by age or experience.
Johnson is ranked 16th on DraftExpress’s 2009 mock draft which puts him as the Bulls pick. He’d be a good fit for our running offense, but maybe not a great fit with existing personnel as the Bulls are unlikely to have SF minutes available and Johnson likely isn’t a pure PF. Draftexpress isn’t yet taking team needs into account, so Johnson is unlikely to stay in that slot going forward, but if the Bulls call his name feel good about him going forward as a high upside player that deep in the draft.