A bruising center who was very raw when he stepped on campus as a freshman, Reggie Johnson
has made considerable strides in his first two years at Miami. He's lost an estimated 40 pounds in two years while developing into a solid contributor in the post and on the glass for the Hurricanes, and still has substantial room for more growth as a player.
Standing 6'10 with a long 7'2.5 wingspan, Reggie Johnson
has a very nice frame to work with, and is already pretty mobile for a guy who weighs 307 pounds with 22.4% body fatas measured at the New Jersey Nets group workout last May. Despite not having much definition in his body, Johnson possesses terrific brute strength and has no problem using it, playing a very physical brand of basketball on the offensive end.
His weight does hold him back in terms of his ability to elevate, however, and below average conditioning is likely a contributor to playing just 26 minutes per game, so continuing to trim down his body could have multiple positive effects. Johnson unfortunately suffered a setback this summer, as he tore the meniscus in his right knee in July, which will likely keep him out until at least January, and won't help his continued efforts to maximize his physical abilities.
Looking at Johnson's game on the basketball court last season, there are numerous things to be encouraged about for a player who came onto campus as a substantial project.
Johnson does the majority of his damage operating with his back to the basket, where he shows a simple but solid repertoire of moves. He is very much reliant on a right-handed hook shot, something he shows very good touch on with range out to about eight feet. Beyond that, he does a good job using his frame to back his man down and finish with power through contact, having no qualms about bullying his way to the basket.
On the downside, Johnson does show some troubles with double teams, specifically in protecting the ball from help defenders. He also doesn't show much in terms of a left hand, and his overall repertoire is very limited beyond his right-handed hook and just overpowering his man. That said, with his size and touch, assuming he can continue to trim down and maximize his quickness and explosiveness while not sacrificing power, he may be able to get by with his limited repertoire as others in his mold have.
In terms of setting up in the post off the ball, Johnson does a good job moving to get open and is often eager to call for the ball, where he shows great hands catching entry passes. He is a bit inconsistent in terms of using his mass to establish dominant post position early, sometimes opting to settle for catching the ball in the 10-15 foot range and working to back his man down from there.
Johnson doesn't possess much in terms of perimeter abilities, showing no discernable ball-handling prowess and being very limited with his mid-range jumper. His 67% free-throw shooting (down from 79% as a freshman) isn't awful, so this is certainly something he can build upon to become a more versatile player.
Johnson does make some contributions in the pick-and-roll game, where he is occasionally featured, being surprisingly nimble for his size and doing a nice job on catch-and-finishes with his good combination of hands and touch. He actually gets quite a few dunks in this manner, showing no hesitation to elevate with power around the basket when he builds the necessary momentum to do so.
The other area Johnson makes strong contributions on the offensive end is with his rebounding, something he does consistently well on both sides of the floor. Johnson was the third best per minute rebounder in the DraftExpress database
last season, as he does an excellent job using his strength and mass to carve out space around the rim, and then using his good hands, long arms and strong nose for the ball to pull in everything he can.
On the defensive end, however, Johnson is very much a work in progress, not possessing much in terms of post fundamentals, where he's often shot over and beaten around. Johnson's effort level is solid, and he shows decent timing on shot blocks despite his weak elevation, but he clearly is disadvantaged from a fundamentals and quickness standpoint. To his credit, he shows good effort when he has to close out on the perimeter, and does his best to move his feet when he's rarely matched up with an opponent on the perimeter, but clearly has a ways to go here.
Looking forward, Johnson has a nice framework of skills to work with and has the makings of a strong physical specimen if he can continue his body transformation. His work ethic and learning curve are obviously positive attributes for him, and they'll be tested to see if he can overcome his injury setback to continue his progress this season. Continuing to trim down his body while maintaining his strength, improving his post-game, developing a more reliable mid-range jumper, and putting in substantial work defensively will all be important for his stock, but he still has plenty of time left to hone his skills.