Keldon Johnson: Hustle
Our scouting grades represent the composite opinion of at least three different scouts. Each category is graded based on how we view a player’s current ability level relative to NBA players at the same position (guard, wing, forward or big). A grade of 1 indicates replacement level, a grade of 5 indicates NBA average, and a grade of 10 indicates historically elite. Our composite scouting notes help provide context for our grades.
Johnson does a good job of moving off the ball on offense and staying engaged on defense. He is willing to dive for loose balls and crash the glass on both ends of the court. He hustles in transition in both directions. He clearly cares about the game and wants to make winning plays, though his slow reaction time can sometimes mask that. Although he plays in 3rd gear most of the game, his effort can wane down to 2nd gear at times. That isn’t a huge issue for a freshman playing 30 minutes per game against a difficult slate of opponents, but maintaining that 3rd gear effort for the duration of his NBA stints will likely be necessary to hold his own.
Johnson seems to be in the right place at the right time to collect offensive boards, however the reason he finds so many gifts is still a bit of a mystery. He is a good cutter, which puts him close to the rim, but he is also good at collecting long boards by simply appearing where they are going to be.
Though he stands at 6’6” with a sturdy 211-pound frame, Johnson doesn’t put his frame to work boxing out offensive players. He often tries to chase the ball as a defensive rebounder, but lacks the bounce to high point the ball in traffic. His solid instincts for positioning enable him to collect his fair share of rebounds, but he doesn’t do much in the way of preventing opponents from getting their share. At the NBA level where fewer guards and wings crash the glass his rebounding presence may add some value to his team.
Johnson runs the floor in transition and does a good job filling lanes and even handling the ball when necessary. His lack of explosiveness does limit him as a finisher, as he’s typically unable to achieve the high efficiency, above the rim finishes that most NBA athletes are capable of. His greatest strength in the NBA may be widening the court by sprinting to the corners, providing space for more athletic players to finish at the rim.
Johnson consistently gets back in transition, and usually does a good job at keeping track of his man. However, he lacks the explosiveness to make impact plays at the rim, and sometimes struggles with the chaos that can ensue from transition and semi-transition situations.