This week’s San Antonio Spurs prospect profile features former Duke forward Jalen Johnson. He might be the most intriguing and unknown commodity from the college ranks. The 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward has had a dubious career so far. He transferred out of IMG Academy midseason of his senior year before ever lacing up for that team and most notably, he opted out of Duke’s season midway through as well.
If Johnson can answer the questions about why he opted out of multiple seasons, he could see himself pick up momentum to get back into the lottery. He started as a top 10 pick, but precipitously fell after he opted out. Here are his stats in the 13 games he played last season.
- 11.2 PPG, 2.2 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 6.1 RPG
- 52.3 FG%, 44.4 3P%, 63.2 FT%
- 25.8 PER, 104.4 ORtg, 95.4 DRtg
While Johnson might be a fairly raw product without a whole lot of tape, what he was able to show was pretty good. He is excellent as the ball handler in transition, which is helped by his supreme athleticism and decision-making. He’s got great size (although he might need to add some weight) that will make him versatile on offense as well as defense. He has defensive potential, but it remains to be seen how he will realize it and match expectations.
The former Blue Devil crashes the glass very well and not only blocks a decent amount of shots, but alters plenty of others. He can guard multiple positions with some potential to defend bigger guys in the post. He played a lot of power forward at Duke and could play well at that position in the NBA.
The young man may have off-court questions to answer for, but he also has plenty to address on the court. His three-point shooting is a good place to start. While his percentage might say he’s a pretty good shooter from deep, he only took 1.4 a game and 18 total on his season. Often times, teams left him wide open from three because they wanted to take away his drive. So if he can show that the three-point threat from him is real, then he will be a major two-way weapon to have on the team.
Johnson will also have to show that he can handle point forward duties at the next level. While he makes good decisions and can pass the ball, he also struggles with turnovers. He finished with more turnovers than assists this season so that will be a development to keep an eye on going forward.
His most enticing attributes are his potential to be a second initiator on offense and his three-point shot if it swings in his favor. He could be an excellent foundational piece of a team and could likely be picked outside of the lottery unless his workouts and interviews go extremely well and surprise people.