Jalen Johnson left Duke in the middle of the season and decided to prepare for the NBA Draft, a move that many criticized him over. However, the young forward has a high ceiling. Let’s take a look at the skillset of the Duke product.
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Name: Jalen Johnson
Weight: 220 lbs
Prototype: Two-Way Slashing Forward
Johnson has good length and athleticism which allows him to block shots and recover well on defense. Although he has good length to use on the perimeter he can be driven past easily at times due to a lack of focus. Overall, Johnson is an above-average defender, but not an elite one.
Johnson’s best trait is his finishing. He glides to the rim to avoid contact, but can also make electric dunks. He uses the backboard well to make contested layups and can score well in transition at the rim.
Perimeter Shooting (7.5/10)
Although Johnson shot 44.4 percent from three, he is not an elite shooter. He only attempted 18 threes during the season, but he proved that he can knock them down. With higher volume, his shooting numbers will likely go down due to the hitch in his shot and ineffectiveness in catch-and-shoot situations.
Ball Handling (7/10)
Johnson has decent handles, but most of his success comes from his fluidity. He does not do too much with his handles and relies on fluidity and athleticism to score. Johnson will not be the primary ball-handler in the NBA much due to his average passing and ball-handling skills, but he can score the ball well once he gets it.
Johnson is a decent passer. He finds his teammates well in transition and does not miss many open shooters. Johnson does not make many tough passes, but he certainly can make basic passes when players are open.
Johnson is a terrific rebounder. He uses his athleticism and good verticality to pick up rebounds. He grabbed 6.1 rebounds per game at Duke.
Johnson is a very athletic player, but he does not rely solely on his athleticism to make plays. He often uses his fluidity in combination with his athleticism to score when driving to the rim. On defense, he uses his athleticism to stay in front of players then his verticality if he falls behind.
Johnson fought a foot injury during the season and then opted to leave Duke because of it. Some critics say that he bailed on the team when they were not succeeding by opting out.
Bonus: Potential (+4.5/5)
Johnson is filled with potential. He is a good defender with tremendous upside on that end of the floor. He can also score well when driving to the basket. His lack of high-level playmaking and concerns about his jump shot could limit his upside, but overall, Johnson has a high ceiling.
Johnson is a controversial prospect due to his choice to leave Duke in the middle of the season, but there is no doubt he has a high ceiling. He is a fluid forward that can punish defenders at the rim. If Johnson can consistently knock down threes, he has an intriguing skill set that will make it hard for teams to pass up on if he slips out of the lottery.
Final Grade (85.5/100): Late-Lottery
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