Saturday, July 31

Jalen Johnson’s ‘incomplete’ resume will be a concern for NBA teams in the 2021 draft

With Jalen Johnson’s time in college basketball over, his performance with the Duke Blue Devils is being evaluated by NBA personnel executives, scouts, draft analysts, and many in the media who are paid to speak about him. sport.

And this is how at least one top central office figure calls Johnson’s performance: “Incomplete.”

This seems like an obvious conclusion, because Duke still has six games scheduled plus the ACC Tournament on its schedule, and Johnson decided to leave the team anyway. But it’s also a shocking label. There are so many peripherally involved in the sport that they try to euphemize Johnson’s decision, or model it as the next logical step in his progress toward the professional game.

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At least some of those whose literal job it is to decide who deserves a position on the NBA roster and who doesn’t think that leaving a team at this stage of the season is, to say the least, unimpressive.

Scouts know that Johnson transferred to IMG Academy in Florida from Nicolet High in Glendale, Wisconsin, after his junior season, and then left IMG about a month after the season.

“This is not the first time he’s had a problem with a team, so that’s the biggest concern,” an NBA personnel executive told Sporting News. “This guy has created / made / any problems in his last two stops. If that doesn’t give you pause, I don’t know what will.

“Jalen Johnson is trying out a job, and this would be the equivalent of simply listing his references, but he doesn’t have an actual resume.”

A year ago, five-star point guard Cole Anthony joined a North Carolina Tar Heels team that had some great promising youngsters but largely lacked scorers on the perimeter save for himself. He played in nine games, of which Carolina won six, and averaged 19.1 points and 3.6 assists. Then the meniscus in his right knee tore and he missed 11 games, during which the Tar Heels fell to 8-10.

Given Anthony’s injury and the state of the Tar Heels, the possibility that “Closing it” and the preparation of the draft became the subject of considerable speculation. Anthony never indicated that was in his plans, and he eventually came back and finished the season, delivering performances like a 24-point, 11-rebound effort against Duke, and a 28-point, seven-assist game against Duke.

“He had a major injury, but his year would have been incomplete if that was all he had to go on. But he came back and played after his injury, ”said the NBA personnel executive. “Whether you like Cole Anthony’s game or not, you cannot dispute the desire to play and leave a positive impression.

“Juxtapose that alongside Jalen Johnson’s approach, and you will be the judge.”

Johnson played in 13 games and started eight for the Blue Devils, averaging 11.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He missed three games with a foot injury but produced a 24-point, 16-rebound, four-block masterpiece after his return that was ruined in a loss to Pitt. He had recently seen his minutes decline dramatically, down to just eight in Saturday’s win over NC State.

After the game, Krzyzewski told reporters that Johnson was struggling with the physique of college hoops.

“We had him a couple of times and he was knocked down,” Krzyzewski said.

Rookie center Mark Williams got most of the minutes that could have been Johnson’s and contributed 13 points and 5 blocks. Three days before Johnson’s departure, Krzyzewski was still expressing his confidence that there would be other opportunities for Johnson to excel.

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NBA Draft Analyst Matthew Maurer no Johnson on the list in his mock two-round draft. And that was before “so much reputational damage was done,” in Maurer’s words, by Johnson’s decision to leave the Duke team.

The Blue Devils are just 8-8 overall and in eighth place in the ACC, far from their usual standards. Maurer contends that their persistent struggles created a huge opportunity for Johnson.

“What more invitation do you need to go to Duke and dominate?” Maurer said. “Everything was there for you to take over. You just didn’t. “

The NBA executive explained that Johnson “is like many of these young people who are looking for how they should play, what they think they should do to be drafted. It doesn’t always align with its role. “

A year ago, James Wiseman played three games for the Memphis Tigers, received an 11-game NCAA suspension for fan issues, then chose toward the end of that penalty not to return to college basketball. He was chosen second overall in the 2020 NBA Draft.

However: Wiseman weighs 7-1,245 pounds and is an extraordinary athlete for his size; When he played, Wiseman stood out for the Tigers, and had an established reputation as a high school player during his two years at East High in Memphis.

Johnson has none of this going for him.

“You have to watch every step you take now,” Maurer said, “because every step is measured.”

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