With the season already past the midway point, NBA GMs have their minds set on the NBA Playoffs. But for those teams that will be counting ping pong balls instead of playoff victories, the upcoming NBA Draft has many intriguing prospects that need to be recognized. So before March Madness takes over, Dime contributor Lucas Shapiro will be profiling players and giving them a team that would best fit their talent. Last week was Ohio State’s Evan Turner, so now we’re on to Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson.
Player Comparisons: Shawn Marion, Hakim Warrick and DerMarr Johnson
Johnson runs like a gazelle and leaps like a bullfrog. He’s a great fit for an uptempo team. Any point guard would love playing with Johnson because of his ability to run the floor and get out ahead of defenders on the fastbreak. He’s just an alley-oop waiting to happen. It would not hurt him to add some weight and strength to his frame, since he may need to guard power forwards at times. His hand-eye coordination is good, but his best quality has to be his anticipation skills. Anyone who averages nearly two blocks and two steals per game in college is born to play in the NBA.
For a guy who is known for his ability to get to the basket, Johnson is an underrated shooter. His shot has NBA three-point range and decent form. The biggest problem that Johnson has is creating shots for himself. His ball-handling skills are mediocre and he benefits from his teammates, who happen to be great passers (i.e Brandon Triche and Andy Rautins). Once he gets to the pros, he’ll need to land on a team with a good point guard to stay productive on the offensive end of the floor. On the defensive end, he has great sliding technique and a solid understanding of team defense.
Since he is already 22 years old, Johnson will be ready for the NBA due to the fact that he’s older than many of players already. Depending on the team that drafts him, Johnson should be able to contribute on offense right away. Coaches will adore his rebounding and defense, thus he should not have to worry about a lack of playing time. He has also already proven that he does not get rattled in crunch time, since Syracuse has been able to win a bunch of tight games.
Upside is easily Johnson’s biggest question mark. Scouts are concerned about whether he can develop the ability to score off of the dribble in the League. He still has potential to become a star, but it is more likely that he will become a high-quality role player. In a sense, he is similar to Mo Williams since he’ll need to be on the right team to become an All-Star caliber player.
Best Fit: New Orleans Hornets
After giving away Rasual Butler, the Hornets have found themselves lacking at the wing positions. Marcus Thornton is a start to their quest for good swingmen, and Johnson could fulfill their needs. Hopefully, the Hornets will hire a coach who is willing to let Chris Paul run an uptempo offense since Johnson could run the break with him effectively.
Runner-Up: Utah Jazz*
Although Andrei Kirilenko‘s time in Utah could end in the near future, Johnson could learn some tricks of the trade from him. Jerry Sloan is great at developing young talent and making sure they are ready to contribute right away. Johnson’s lack of go-to-moves can be hidden by Deron Williams‘ play-making ability. This would be a great situation since Johnson would not have the pressure to make a big contribution right away, but could also have a big role on a possible contender.
*Knicks fans, you can thank Isiah Thomas for making it possible that they Jazz could get a guy like Johnson.
What do you think?
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DIMEMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.