Player Projection: James Johnson

by Jon Nichols

Today I’m projecting James Johnson of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons using my Box Score Prediction System (explanation here: 

Johnson was the second leading scorer (behind Jeff Teague) on a Wake Forest squad that disappointed by exiting in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  However, the Demon Deacons had some great moments, holding the number one rank in the nation for a week in January, and Johnson was a huge contributor.  Johnson is a swing forward with good size and athleticism.  He also plays were great ferocity and his toughness is unmistakable.  Besides that, he’s got decent range on his shot and can slash to the rim with ease.

Unfortunately, there’s a reason he’s only projected as a mid-lottery pick.  His basketball IQ is not that high yet and his shot selection is questionable.  The talent is there; the question is whether or not he can maximize it.

How does BSPS think he’ll do in the NBA?  Let’s take a look at Johnson’s projected box score per 36 minutes:

From what I’ve seen of him in action, Johnson reminds me a lot of Thaddeus Young.  The numbers seem to agree.  Johnson projects to have a good-but-not great scoring average with mediocre three-point shooting and limited playmaking abilities.  The one edge he may have is rebounding, although it is not a big advantage.

It’s been said many times that this year’s draft class is weak, and I think Johnson’s projected numbers show us why.  Even though he projects to be nothing special (but not terrible either) and comes with a decent amount of risk, Johnson will almost certainly be a lottery pick and may end up in the top ten.  Although obviously a team would be satisfied with the production I have above, Johnson looks like just one of the many prospects who don’t appear to have the potential to be stars. 

This may end up being a good thing, though.  Instead of reaching for guys who are all-or-nothing busts, teams will have to settle for players who appear to have the most reasonable shot of being a solid pro.  All we can do is wait and see how the draft will play out in June.






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