The Kentucky Wildcats and head coach John Calipari have established themselves as a legitimate NBA “one and done” feeder school. Keldon Johnson is the next player in a long line of Kentucky stars seemingly destined to be lottery picks. The guard joins several other blue blood talents in the 2019 NBA Draft, but there are several things that set him apart.
Keldon Johnson got Rupp Arena rockin’ early with the steal and slam ?pic.twitter.com/J3WPWc64PE
— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) January 23, 2019
Size and Length
Kentucky’s projected top prospect has great size for the guard position in the NBA. The likely NBA two guard’s recorded height at the NBA combine was 6’6″ with shoes on. This puts him right in line with the other NBA two guards, and it pairs well with the other attributes he possesses. A player’s wingspan is to an extent just as important if not more important than height in the NBA.
Luckily the Kentucky guard has a great wingspan for his position at 6’9.25″. This size makes the shooting guard a fairly prototypical size for the NBA. The NBA Combine also had the guard’s standing reach listed at 8’8″ and his weight at 216.4 pounds. Size is important at the NBA level and can make up for some deficiencies in the talent realm when it comes to the spot a player gets drafted.
The NBA is about putting the ball in the basket and the former Kentucky freshman has the ability from almost anywhere on the court. He can score well on the fastbreak or in a set halfcourt offense. His lone year at Kentucky saw him average 13.5 points per game and shooting at a clip of 46.1 percent. The ability to score often and efficiently is at a premium in the NBA and Johnson is capable at the next level.
KELDON JOHNSON SENDS IT TO OT WITH THE HALFCOURT BUZZER-BEATER AT MSG ??? pic.twitter.com/HHr1e58PK0
— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) December 8, 2018
NBA teams like the Boston Celtics or Toronto Raptors love stockpiling athletic wings who have the versatility to accomplish multiple things on the court. Johnson is just that and his athleticism was designed to thrive in today’s NBA. His athletic ability will help him succeed in the NBA on offense and defense.
There are several things that athleticism can make up for at the NBA level. His lone season at Kentucky saw him average 5.9 rebounds per game and almost a full steal per game. The NBA is full of athletic wings and guards of this nature will always be in high demand as long as they produce.
There are a few traits the incoming NBA rookie will need to work on coming into the league. The first and foremost issue is the slightly inconsistent jumper he showed off while with the Wildcats. He also seemed hesitant to take open jumpers this past college basketball season. These issues will need to be addressed but are not NBA deal breakers. Confidence will always grow and great shot makers don’t just pop out of thin air all the time. The final remaining issue is the guard is slightly turnover prone averaging 1.6 per game last season.
Keldon Johnson NBA Comparison:
Caldwell-Pope is an inch shorter and ten pounds lighter than Keldon Johnson, but their play styles are very similar. The great perimeter defense combined with the hottest hot streaks and the coldest cold streaks beyond the three-point line. Body type for the incoming rookie is almost a dead ringer for a younger Andre Iguodala entering his first year with the Philadelphia 76ers. A bigger and likely stronger Caldwell-Pope could be a serious problem for opponents.