Houston Rockets: NBA draft prospect to trade up for Jalen Johnson
Forward, Duke/ Projected: 15th, High: 6th, Low: 35th
Mock drafts project Johnson’s draft position with alarming variance. It isn’t hard to find a mock draft that lands him anywhere from the 8th pick to somewhere in the late teens. A lot of reservations about Johnson seem to focus on his character: he left Duke after a mere 13 games, allegedly clashing with Coach K.
On a related note: The Rockets seem to have a knack for working with young players with so-called character concerns. However, there are less questions about Johnson’s game.
He is a 6’9 point forward with a tantalizing combination of size, speed, ball-handling, and passing chops. Johnson is a terror in the open floor, makes strong cuts, and can potentially handle either end of a pick and roll in half-court sets.
He projects as a versatile defender who can check wings and bigs alike. His jumper is still a work in progress, although he did nail 44-percent of his 3-point attempts at Duke, albeit in limited volume and number of games.
Even if he never develops into a sharpshooter, his willingness to fire with enough frequency to keep defenses honest could take him a long way in the NBA. If he does develop a consistent 3-pointer, the word “ceiling” may no longer apply to his potential. In the earliest stages of a rebuild, the Rockets cannot afford to let that much potential slip by them if they have the opportunity to select Johnson.