Keldon Johnson: Intelligence
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.
Like many freshman, Johnson has evolved right before our eyes. He has built his way into being a good relocator who can find soft spots in the defense and move without the basketball, using his gravity to create space for others. His understanding and growth in these two areas lends itself to what we believe will be his best offensive role at the next level, an off-ball threat who can shoot and attack the warp. But one area he will need to polish to play into that role is reading his defender while relocating. He will often allow his defender to get back into the play when running off screens by reading over-under defenses incorrectly. He also doesn’t have the capability to pass teammates open yet, though he has shown the ability to make tough predetermined passes.
While Johnson projects as a passable on-ball defender out of the gate, his off-ball awareness needs to improve quickly. He is an avid ball watcher who will often miss a rotation to a cutter because he is fixated on the primary action. While his recovery time affords him a larger margin of error than many NCAA cohorts, he will still need to anticipate developments before being swept up in them.
Johnson is very confident in his ability to score, which can put him in detrimental situations with the ball in his hands. Many of his reads seem to be system-based (and pre-determined) which is underscored by his penchant for staring down the next action when he is in triple threat. He has flashed some ability to improvise when passing off of drives.
Johnson tends to be decisive in the triple threat position, quickly shooting, attacking the warp or swinging the ball to the next player. This enables him to be successful with merely average decision-making skills because he executes those decisions swiftly before the defense has time to reset. His passing instinct tends to be half a step slow when he is on the move, causing him to miss some easy target or try to force a pass in late.
Anticipation (A to C)
Johnson’s anticipation on defense is a bit of a sticking point in his otherwise dependable skill set. He tends to get blindsided when his man is involved in actions, both on and off ball. Getting stuck on a screen is not a sin, but staying stuck and revealing a hole which the offense can exploit is, and a big one for a player who seems to have a lot of qualities as a plus team defender.