Keon Johnson, the freshman guard from the Tennessee Volunteers, will enter this year’s NBA Draft as a likely lottery pick. He’s fresh off a solid season with the Volunteers. Johnson is one of two freshmen from Tennessee who will enter this year’s NBA Draft after playing their last college game in this year’s March Madness.
Keon Johnson 2021 NBA Draft Profile
Johnson was a five-star recruit from The Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. He spent one year at Tennessee and averaged 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.1 steals across 25.5 minutes per game. Johnson came off the bench for the first 10 out of 11 games last season before becoming a starter. He’s had some nice scoring games as a starter including a 27-point performance in a win against Kentucky.
Johnson would go on to average 16.8 points in his final five games of his college career. As a result of his performance last year, Johnson was named to the SEC All-Freshmen team. However, his journey as a college player came to an end in the Round of 64 of the 2021 NCAA Tournament; when Oregon State pulled off an upset against Tennessee.
The thing that stands out the most about Johnson is his nuclear athleticism. He plays bigger than his size at 6-feet-5 and is an explosive leaper. Johnson is also physically stronger than he looks as he’s listed at 186 pounds.
Skill-wise, he’s an excellent slasher and does a great job at finishing around the rim when he attacks. Johnson puts a lot of pressure on defenders in the paint and is good at getting to the free-throw line. Furthermore, Johnson is a great physical on-ball defender with active hands. He will occasionally block some shots with his leaping ability.
Another great attribute that he plays very hard and more than willing to make the extra effort plays.
Johnson is one of the younger prospects in this year’s draft and has a high ceiling. He is still 19 years old and has shown flashes of star potential at Tennessee. Johnson will not stay on the NBA Draft board for long with his high upside.
Johnson has a few weaknesses as a prospect. The glaring of them all is his shooting. Johnson doesn’t have a consistent outside shot as he only shot 27.1 percent from three. That is an area he needs to improve on if he wants to find success in the NBA. Another area he needs to improve on is his free-throw shooting. Johnson shot 70.3 percent at the free-throw line in his lone season at Tennessee. His shooting mechanics aren’t terrible so he should be able to improve as a shooter with repetition.
Some other weaknesses in Johnson’s game include his decision-making, shot selection, and guarding the pick and roll. While Johnson is a great defender, he has his lapses defending the pick and roll with his poor positioning. It’s something that needs to be corrected through repetition. Johnson will occasionally make bad decisions whether it’s taking questionable shots or turning the ball over from over dribbling. He averaged 2.6 turnovers per game in college and this is something he’ll need to cut down over time.
Johnson’s game has a lot of similarities to Jaylen Brown when the Celtics All-Star came into the league. They’re both very athletic and physical when attacking the hoop. The most apparent difference is their height and wingspan as Johnson is a smaller version of Brown. Furthermore, both players weren’t great at outside shooting in college, but Brown has put in the work to improve his shooting drastically. There’s no reason to believe that Johnson won’t improve his shooting if he puts in the time to work on it.
2021 NBA Draft Projection
Lottery Pick: 7th- 11th overall