Thursday, November 30, 2023

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

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With Jalen Johnson’s time in college basketball over, his performance with the Duke Blue Devils is being rated by NBA staff executives, scouts, draft analysts, and many media paid to talk about the sport.

And that’s how at least one major front-office figure assesses Johnson’s performance: “incomplete.”

This seems like an obvious conclusion, as Duke still has six games scheduled plus the ACC tournament on his schedule, and Johnson chose to leave the team anyway. But it’s also a hard-hitting label. There are so many people involved in the sport on the periphery who are trying to euphemize Johnson’s decision or shape it as the next logical step in his progression into professional gaming.

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At least some of those whose job it is literally to decide who deserves a position in the NBA roster and who don’t believe leaving a team at this point in the season is, to say the least, unimpressive.

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

“This isn’t the first time he’s had an issue with a team, so it’s the biggest concern,” an NBA personnel manager told Sporting News. “This guy created / made / problems his last two stops. If that doesn’t give you a break, I don’t know what will.

“Jalen Johnson is trying to find a job, and that would be the equivalent of just listing your references, but you don’t have a real CV.”

A year ago, five-star playmaker Cole Anthony joined a North Carolina Tar Heels team that had some promising young men but largely lacked perimeter scorers, except for himself. He has played nine games, including Carolina winning six, averaging 19.1 points and 3.6 assists. Then he tore the meniscus in his right knee and 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 he “Stop it” and the preparation of the project has become an object of much speculation. Anthony never indicated it was in his plans, and he eventually came back and finished the season, delivering performances such as a 24-point effort, 11 rebounds against Duke and a 28-point, seven-assists 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 manager. “Whether you like Cole Anthony’s game or not, you can’t deny the desire to play and leave a positive impression.

“Juxtapose that with the approach of Jalen Johnson, and you will be the judge.”

Johnson has played 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, upon his return, produced a 24-point, 16-rebound, four-block masterpiece that was marred by a loss to Pitt. Recently, he had seen his minutes drop dramatically, dropping to just eight in Saturday’s victory over NC State.

After the game, Krzyzewski told reporters Johnson struggled with the physicality of college hoops.

“We’ve had him a few times, and he’s been pushed back,” Krzyzewski said.

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

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NBA Draft Analyst Matthew Maurer Johnson has not listed on its two-tower simulation project. And that was before “so much damage was done to reputation,” in Maurer’s words, by Johnson’s choice to leave the Duke team.

The Blue Devils are only 8-8 overall and eighth in the ACC, far from their usual standards. Maurer argues that their persistent struggles have created huge opportunities for Johnson.

“What other invitation did you need to enter Duke and dominate?” Maurer said. “Everything was there for you to take over. You just haven’t.

The NBA executive explained that Johnson “looks like a lot of these young people who are figuring out how to play, what they think they have to do to be drafted. It does not always correspond to its role. “

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

However: Wiseman weighs 7-1, 245 pounds and is an extraordinary athlete for his height; when he played, Wiseman excelled for the Tigers – and he had an established reputation as a high school player after his two years at East High in Memphis.

Johnson has none of that going for him.

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


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