NBA Draft 2021

2021 NBA Draft: Keon Johnson scouting report, strengths, weaknesses and player comparisons

Where Keon Johnson will end up on draft night is a mystery, because he has the widest range of any prospect in the 2021 NBA Draft class.

The 19-year-old guard averaged 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game in his freshman season at Tennessee, earning a spot on the SEC All-Freshman First Team. He proved to be one of the best all-around athletes in his draft class, showcasing the potential of a two-way standout in the league in the future.

But what would Johnson bring to the NBA franchise that selects him?

Strengths

Johnson is the best athlete in this draft class.

His speed and quickness makes him a terror in transition and his explosive first step benefits his playing style in the half court, where he is best at getting downhill and using his leaping ability to get easy buckets at the rim.

Where the 19-year-old freshman really excels is on the defensive end, bringing an edge of toughness, high energy, active hands and great instincts to make winning plays. He is an elite stopper on the perimeter and his size (at 6-foot-5) blends nicely with his physicality and attitude on that end of the floor to provide some versatility in defending guards or forwards.

This play below from the NCAA Tournament gives you a glimpse of both his intelligence on defence, as well as his motor to accelerate quickly and finish under duress.

The anticipation to come up with the steal is impressive in its own, but the fact that he doesn't control the ball until there is less than five seconds on the clock and he still scores on the other end is just ridiculous.

Offensively, Johnson is still a project but all of the tools are there to one day be a true two-way threat in the NBA. Being much quicker and more athletic than his opponents, Johnson was able to solely rely on his burst to score in college. His jump shot mechanics are alright and his ball handling improved throughout the season, but there is still work to be done in fine-tuning his arsenal of weapons on offence.

His untapped potential and high ceiling make him one of the most intriguing prospects.

Weaknesses

As mentioned, Johnson is still a work-in-progress offensively.

He changes pace well as a dribbler and really knows how to utilize his speed to his advantage but NBA teams will force him to take jump shots more than he had to in college. His shooting stroke - and range, in particular - could use some work, as he only shot 27.1 percent from 3 during his freshman season. His jumper was a last-resort option for a source of scoring, whether it be off of a pull-up or on the catch-and-shoot.

Johnson's playmaking skills need improvement as a whole. He would benefit from tightening up his handle. He's raw as a passer and decision-maker, meaning he's a ways away from being any sort of a combo guard in at the next level.

Projected NBA Draft Position: Top-10 pick

Projected NBA Role: Defensive-minded, two-way wing

Shades of: Victor Oladipo, Tony Allen

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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