BOSTON -- Keldon Johnson was SEC Freshman of the Year, the kind of honor that in this era usually comes with an automatic trip to being selected in the NBA lottery (top-14) afterwards.
But as talented as Johnson showed himself to be at Kentucky, like so many other top-flight players in this draft class, he too comes with questions.
And those questions will likely keep the Wildcats star on the radar for Boston with its three first-round picks at No. 14, 20, and 22.
At 6-foot-6, 216 pounds, Johnson has ideal size and length to defend most backcourt players in the NBA.
Playing with a pair of likely first-round picks in Tyler Herro and PJ Washington (also on the Celtics radar) at Kentucky, Johnson still managed to play well enough to stand out while averaging 13.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 38.1 percent on 3’s.
Finding a way to get on the floor sooner rather than later is a challenge for any rookie trying to break into the NBA.
But Johnson has some intangible qualities that with the right situation, could allow him to find a pathway to playing time quickly.
And with him being a player whose emotions are seemingly always on display, Johnson has the makings of a nice role player coming off the bench who can provide a lift not only in terms of his play but an emotional boost as well.
Johnson’s length and physical strength enable him to be a decent rebounder too, which is evident by him averaging a shade under six boards per game last season with the Wildcats.
But like most prospects in this year’s draft, Johnson is trying to answer as many questions as he can that teams might have about his potential at the next level.
“I’m just going to show them my game, do what I do,” Johnson said during the NBA pre-draft combine last month. “Show I can handle the ball, create my own shot, stuff like that. Just play my game and do what I’m supposed to do.”
Creating his own shot, maybe more than anything else, has been a focus of Johnson leading up to the June 20 NBA draft.
“A lot of people say I can’t create my own shot,” Johnson said. “Of course I’m going to disagree with it. Hopefully I go into workouts and show NBA teams otherwise and just be myself; I’ll be fine.”
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