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NBA Draft '19: Keldon Johnson Season Preview


Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

It seems every year that we can bet on John Calipari having a future NBA-caliber guard or wing on his roster. Whether it’s Devin Booker, Jamal Murray, Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox, or it’s guys recently drafted like Knicks legend Kevin Knox, Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, or the ever-explosive Hamidou Diallo, Kentucky always seems to find some of the best perimeter players for the draft. This year is no different as Kentucky has picked up the Oak Hill Academy phenom, Keldon Johnson.

Johnson is a 6-foot-6 wing with an less than impressive 6-foot-8 wingspan, but what he lacks in length, he brings in his effort and skill. What Johnson does have right now is a devastating mid-range game, which he uses a variety of floaters, stepbacks, and uses the pump fake well to draw fouls, a la Dwyane Wade. His overall handle is also well developed, as he uses some of the most creative body control moves you would ever see in high school, combined with a patent in-and-out dribble, and a shifty eurostep, and you can see how he has garnered comparisons to a Manu Ginobili -type of player.

Johnson’s weaknesses are also similar to Ginobili or Wade at a young age. Despite the fact that he has a picture perfect jumper, Johnson only hit 33% of his 3-pointers in high school, and the line only gets pushed back further the closer he gets to the pro game. He’s also not exactly the most athletic player on the court, with some games where he looks like he might get chased down on open breaks. His handle, while being well-developed, is a bit high. However, it has been effective thus far, and it is possible it gets better as Johnson develops.

One thing about Johnson, however, is his attitude. Despite not being the tallest, fastest, or strongest player on the court, Johnson is constantly competing on the defensive end, and displaying the ability to take over games. Johnson even has current Kentucky players speaking on his behalf and how they enjoy how explosive his personality is. It is only a matter of time until we find out if he really is worth all of the hype.

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