School: North Carolina
Cameron Johnson’s draft stock was bolstered significantly by an outstanding senior season at North Carolina. Johnson averaged 16.9 points and 5.8 rebounds and shot 45.7 percent from three-point range in 36 games for the Tar Heels. He was a driving force for one of the best teams in the country and finished the season as a First Team All-ACC selection.
It’s not hyperbole to suggest Johnson is the best shooter in this draft. That 45.7 three-point success rate came on nearly six attempts per game. He is a big-time shooter who uses his 6-9 frame to his advantage on the perimeter.
Johnson played five seasons of college basketball — three at Pittsburgh and two at North Carolina. He was granted a medical redshirt at Pitt as a freshman before playing two seasons for the Panthers. He graduated in three years from Pitt then used his final two years of eligibility at North Carolina.
He enters the draft at 23 years old. While some NBA executives may view his advanced age as a drawback, it’s also fair to label him as an experienced, mature prospect ready to step in and contribute immediately at the NBA level.
In a word, shooting. It’s what Johnson does best and it's a skill that is valued tremendously in the NBA. Johnson not only led the ACC in three-point shooting, he was also the top long-range marksman in all of the Power 5 conferences.
Johnson profiles as a terrific complementary piece on the offensive end of the floor. He’ll be able to play off penetrators and knock down open jumpers. His size and quick release will only enhance his shooting ability in the professional game.
His basketball IQ and work ethic also stand out. He has a great understanding of the game after playing five seasons of high-level college basketball. Johnson was a late bloomer in high school and in college — Pitt was the only major program that recruited him. He worked his way from unheralded prospect to one of the best players in the country over the span of five years.
Athleticism and all-around defensive ability top this list. The majority of his scoring in college was on the perimeter. He is not an explosive finisher at the rim and doesn’t embrace contact when driving to the basket. He averaged just two free throw attempts per game during his college career.
It will be a tall order for Johnson to guard the top wing players in the NBA because of his lack of elite foot speed. He’ll need to become more physical on the defensive end.
To his credit, he tested well at the combine. But his athleticism — particularly on the defensive end — will be worth monitoring as he enters the NBA.
Johnson would be a tremendous fit for the Sixers. They need shooters and that’s what he does best. Johnson would space the floor for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and benefit greatly from Simmons’ court vision and overall passing ability. He would get a ton of open looks on the perimeter playing with Embiid and Simmons.
Johnson is mature enough to accept his role. He was a star last season at North Carolina but would be a member of the Sixers' supporting cast. At 23, he would also be ready to contribute immediately for a team with visions of winning a championship.
If he is still on the board when the Sixers are making the 24th pick, don’t be surprised to hear Johnson’s name called.
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