Freshman guard Keldon Johnson made it officially (unofficial) Wednesday: he will put his name in the draft, but he’ll leave the door open in case he doesn’t get the positive reassurance he’s hoping for throughout this process. That’s pretty standard these days, especially since college players can now hire an agent to go through the NBA Draft process without forfeiting their eligibility.
Basically, Keldon Johnson is testing the waters. What will he find? Of course, NBA Mock Drafts are everywhere during this time of the year, but truth be told, no one really knows what’s going to happen until draft night on June 20, 2019. Johnson – and players who decide to make similar choices in terms of “leaving the door open” – will have until the May 29 deadline to officially keep his name in the Draft or decide to return to college for another year. That’s ten whole days after the NBA Combine, meaning he’ll have plenty of time to get feedback from a plethora of coaches and other experts.
Like I said, these selections are essentially estimated guesses, but they do come from some of the “top-guessers” of NBA Drafts. Keep in mind, some outlets strategize their ordering based on which team needs what in terms of skill sets, while others simply rank the Draft’s participants. Anyway, here’s what some of the top outlets have to say about Johnson’s potential Draft outcomes.
CBS SPORTS (Kyle Boone and Gary Parrish, unanimous)
No. 12 – Minnesota Timberwolves
No. 15 – Detroit Pistons
No. 17 – Orlando Magic
No. 18 – Boston Celtics
No. 19 – San Antonio Spurs
No. 20 – San Antonio Spurs
CBS Sports gives Johnson his best-case scenario, while ESPN gives him the lowest ranking on the list. When averaged together, these outlets have Johnson coming out as a 16.8 seed. Some outlets explained their rankings:
Bleacher Report recognized Johnson’s appeal “began fading over the final months of the season when he was making fewer threes – and plays in general – within the half court.” On the other hand, they also note his 6’6″ size, strength and athleticism “provides plenty to like with his driving and slashing, advanced runner game, defensive potential and shot-making accuracy.”
Similarly, Sport Illustrated says he “comes with some limitations,” but makes up for those with his intangibles: “competitive drive, offensive skill package and positional value.” SI, which has PJ Washington at No. 11 and Tyler Herro at No. 16, notes it’s possible Johnson falls a bit behind his teammates on Draft night, but emphasizes he “certainly won’t have to be a star to justify being selected in this range.”
On the other hand, CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish writes Johnson should be the first Wildcat selected in the draft, calling him a “good-enough athlete… shooting nearly 40 percent from 3-point range on three attempts per game.” Parrish also says Johnson was one of the main factors behind Kentucky’s transformation from a 34-point loss to Duke to the Elite Eight, but he acknowledged Johnson’s “production has decreased a bit as the season progressed.” Still, he considers Johnson “worthy of being selected in the lottery of this draft that drops off considerably somewhere inside the top 10.”