Houston Rockets NBA Draft: Keon Johnson's strengths and weaknesses
Keon Johnson has made a late charge up draft boards due to his otherworldly explosiveness. The suddenness at which he elevates defies belief and portends a steady stream of face-melting dunks.
Johnson got a late start to organized basketball which helps contextualize the 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game he averaged as a freshman. Johnson offers plenty of upside but there is a lot of risk, especially in regards to his offensive game.
Strengths: Athleticism, defense, effort, explosiveness
The athleticism Johnson possesses gives him tremendous upside. In terms of physical projection, he has similar qualities to Dwyane Wade as a shorter guard with incredible burst. It's unusual to write this about a top prospect, but the effort he plays with jumps out. No matter how he develops, his coaches will love him.
All of Johnson's strengths combine to make him an exciting defensive player. His effort and athleticism all but guarantee he'll be a plus defensively. Depending on how long he lasts in the league he could one day challenge Wade as the greatest shot-blocking guard of all time.
There will be plays next season when Johnson blows by a defender caught in a rotation and dunks over a seven-footer and looks like a future All-Star. From day one, he'll be a menace in transition and as a cutter, if that also comes with solid defense he could make a serious impact as a rookie, although in a low-usage role.
Weaknesses: Outside shooting, decision making, size
The NBA has always been 'a make or miss league' but it is increasingly becoming 'a make or miss your threes league'. Johnson doesn't yet have a reliable outside shot and it could end up being the defining aspect of his career. He was late to basketball and shot 70.3-percent from the free-throw line so there is some hope, but it's probably not top-five levels.
Johnson's motor and athleticism will carry him a long way on the defensive end but his lack of size, he's only 6'5, will limit his defensive versatility. His size isn't as much a weakness as that it puts pressure on his other skills to develop.
Finally, Johnson's ability to run an offense lags behind the other top-rated guards. He isn't blind out there, but for a player with such a shaky shot, his passing and vision need to develop. With his athleticism, even as an average passer, he could create easy looks for teammates through the drive and kick.
Should the Houston Rockets trade back in the NBA draft and take Keon Johnson?
The answer is; definitely not. Johnson is an interesting prospect and his defensive potential remains tantalizing but he has too many current weaknesses on offense. With the way the league is now, it's hard to justify drafting a guard in the top-five who you can't rely on to create shots for others or hit them.