Keldon Johnson: Off-Ball Offense
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.
Movement & positioning
Johnson has a strong relocation game, often moving into open space immediately after swing passes. He has a good sense of how to improve passing angles and lengthen the recovery distance of a closeout. He knows how to properly execute fades and lifts, particularly out of the high pick-and-roll. At times he is able to create considerable separation off movement by running air-tight off screens, rubbing shoulders with the screener. He doesn’t often cut directly to the rim as he’s not explosive enough to be threatening in these situations, but he does a good job curling around screens and taking dribble handoffs with momentum towards the rim. He needs to develop more consistency, however, sometimes taking plays off or displaying poor execution when running off screens.
Kentucky primarily uses their big men to set screens, so this skill hasn’t been on display often for Johnson. He seems to have a good sense of timing and angles. His relocation ability could enable him to be effective in screen-the-screener actions, but his lack of physicality in other aspects of the game may limit his impact as a screener. Turning this into a usable in-game skill will take concerted effort from a coaching staff.
Shooting off the catch
Johnson has a quick and compact shooting form, with a smooth release and little wasted motion. He is comfortable shooting off the catch from NBA range, with the significant majority of his attempts at least a foot beyond the NCAA arc. He has a balanced distribution of attempts from around the arc, willing to shoot from anywhere rather than favoring any particular location. He tends to be a hop shooter as he prepares for the shot. He squares up to the basket well, has good extension and no guide hand issues. He does have some issues with acute elbow angle and a flexed wrist, which tend to flatten the arc of a shot. He also has an issue with his knees moving inward, diminishing power generation on the shot attempt. His side-to-side accuracy is among the best in the class.
Shooting off movement
Most of Johnson’s opportunities in this category come off of down screens, with the occasional back screen mixed in. This gives him the opportunity to either curl around the screen or flatten it out for a jump shot. When he flattens it out he is always balanced, adjusting his momentum quickly to prepare for the shot. His mechanics remain consistent with his form off the catch, though his issues with distance control have been slightly more pronounced in a limited sample.
Finishing off movement
Johnson’s lack of burst and explosiveness off one foot limits his potential as a finisher off movement. He moves well off the ball and plays decisively, but in the high-traffic environment of the NCAA basketball a below-the-rim cutter is of little value. In the more open spacing of the NBA game he may find more quality opportunities, but he will have to pick his spots carefully to be efficient. He doesn’t finish well through contact initiated by opponents, and his right-hand dominance makes him easy for help defenders to anticipate.