The Los Angeles Clippers have taken a chance on an unlikely prospect in the first round of the NBA Draft. They selected guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with the 11th overall pick, breaking the record for most number of players drafted by one team in a single draft.
The Los Angeles Clippers have moved up to the record-breaking first round by drafting DeAndre Jordan with the number three pick.
Getty Clippers first-round selection Keon Johnson
The Los Angeles Clippers have crossed the line in the NBA draft for the highest jumper in 2021.
The Clippers traded first-round picks with the New York Knicks and selected air-walking shooting guard Keon Johnson of the University of Tennessee at 21st overall. New York received a second-round selection in 2024 from Los Angeles.
According to a source, the Clippers will trade No. 25 and a future second to New York. At No. 21, the Clippers are eyeing Keon Johnson. https://t.co/FRWvThyVpM
30 July 2021 — Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn)
Johnson, who is widely regarded as the greatest pure athlete among this year’s entering class, spent one year as a Vol before declaring for the draft, and his remarkable athleticism was on display during this summer’s NBA Draft Combine. Johnson achieved a new maximum vertical jump record of 48 inches, beating Kenny Gregory’s mark from 2001 by 2 1/2 inches.
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Johnson was predicted as a Top 10 selection at the time of the record-setting combine leap, with The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie praising his “burst as a driver” and characterizing the 19-year-old as a “excellent defender on the ball already.”
Johnson averaged 11.3 points on 44.9 percent shooting, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.1 steals in 27 games last season. He was especially successful in Tennessee’s last 12 games, averaging 14.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game, including 27 points in an early February victory against Kentucky. Johnson was selected to the first team of the SEC All-Freshman team.
Johnson has to work on his shooting and ballhandling.
While Johnson’s athleticism is undeniable, there are concerns about his shooting and overall offensive game.
Johnson shot only 27.1 percent from beyond the arc last season at Tennessee (which would have ranked him dead last among Clippers who attempted over 18 3-pointers in 2020-21) and, despite his ability to soar above almost anybody defending him, has shown nothing in terms of catch-and-shoots.
Johnson is regarded as a below-average playmaker, in part because he is also regarded as a mediocre ball-handler with a weak left hand. He favored driving to his right in college, a predictability he overcome often via pure physical dominance. However, if opponents can push him to the left, he may struggle to retain possession on drives at the next level. Johnson had a negative assist-to-turnover ratio at Tennessee last season.
Not Expected to Contribute Right Away
Many experts expected Johnson to go to a club seeking to rebuild and willing to wait for his offensive skill set to come up to his raw potential, but the Clippers, who went to the Western Conference finals last season, moved up to acquire him.
Indeed, Vecenie predicted that Johnson would be a good match for a non-contender like Orlando or Oklahoma City at the time of the combine, noting that it would “take a little longer for him to cut down on turnovers and redo his shooting mechanics.” Johnson may possibly spend some time in the G League, according to Vecenie.
#KnicksEmail: [email protected] Play Tennessee Keon Johnson’s BEST Plays & Dunks! tinyurl.com/ens47x34 on Instagram Favorite NBA/College Prospect Players I DO NOT OWN the clips or videos of sports highlights that I upload. The NBA, NCAA, ACC, NFL, SEC, ESPN, BroadbandTV NBA account, and others own all highlights and clips. All videos are modified in accordance with Youtube’s “fair use” guidelines. 2021-07-28T20:11:46Z
However, given that the Clippers have invested some equity to get him, a relegation from the big team seems unlikely. Of course, the Clippers have a huge void defensively with star forward Kawhi Leonard out for at least half the season (assuming he re-signs) and may attempt to utilize Johnson right away in a Ron Artest-like position, with his main advantages coming on defense and hustle plays all over the floor.
However, without Leonard, the Clippers will have to find a lot of new ways to score, and Johnson doesn’t seem to be up to the task. L.A. is more likely to utilize Johnson sparingly in his rookie season, like they did with Terance Mann, with the hopes of developing him into a legitimate offensive threat in year two.
“[Johnson] will have an opportunity to quietly grow at the back end of their roster,” The Athletic’s John Hollinger wrote soon after the selection.
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