One of the 2021 NBA Draft's top prospects opted out of the NCAA season on Monday.
Duke forward Jalen Johnson, the No. 14 overall pick in James Ham's latest mock draft for NBC Sports Bay Area, will not play another game for the Blue Devils and officially enter the NBA Draft, the program confirmed. Stadium's Jeff Goodman first reported the news.
Johnson, 19, was ESPN's No. 13-ranked recruit in the class of 2020. He averaged 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks in just over 21 minutes per game, shooting 52.3 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from behind the 3-point line. The forward played just eight minutes in Duke's win over North Carolina State on Saturday.
The Kings and Warriors were 12th and 19th in draft order entering Monday, according to Tankathon, and Johnson's skill set could be a fit with Sacramento and Golden State. He's a strong ball-handler for his size as well as a versatile defender, although his reported clashes with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski might raise red flags.
Still, Johnson's talent is apparent, and his first (and only) college season occurred during a global pandemic that continues upend most aspects of daily life. NBA teams have excused a lot more with a lot less worldwide disruption as context. Plus, the Warriors had no issues taking James Wiseman after he played nine fewer games (three) as a freshman than Johnson.
If the Warriors and Kings are interested in Johnson, they just won't have any more chances to watch him in a game.