The Golden State Warriors are preparing for the 2021 NBA Draft. Part of that process will include scouting a potential star in Jalen Johnson.
Possibly the most polarizing prospect of the draft, Johnson underwent some rough times in his lone season at Duke.
A highly touted recruit who dominated to begin the season saw a foot injury, alleged clashing with the coaching staff and a season opt-out take the shine out of his star. Whether or not they are warranted, questions of commitment will plague Johnson throughout the entire draft process. Johnson will have to show he wants to compete in a COVID-limited scouting process more than any other player.
Jalen was one of the more frustrating players to watch offensively out of the top 10, but not due to lack of ability. He’s got just about every shot inside the arc somewhere in his bag, can finish with both hands, has a good handle for a 6’9″ 220 lb big, and can hit some threes as well.
Duke forward Jalen Johnson, a powerful two-way wing, could be an intriguing buy-low for the Golden State Warriors in this year’s NBA Draft
What was infuriating at times is Johnson’s unwillingness to use his body on screens, rolls, and the offensive glass. To be Johnson’s size and age and be almost filled out physically is rare. Most players he went up against were inferior in terms of strength and side-to-side athleticism.
Yet he spent his time floating on the perimeter, driving the lane in isolation and trying to finish with style instead of brute force. Johnson’s minutes began to trail off before he opted out of the season because he kept getting “knocked back”, according to Coach K. Being unwilling and unable to get physical as a big is a near unsolvable problem, and thankfully Johnson is not the latter.
Having all the tools and physical ability to be a dominant scoring big is Johnson’s biggest attraction as a prospect. He seems to need a determined enough coaching staff and development plan to make him a true inside-out threat. The handle and shot are good enough to play at the next level, but his size and finishing ability are the true strengths of his offensive game.