DraftExpressProfile: Wesley Johnson, Stats, Comparisons, and Outlook
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Wesley Johnson
STRENGTHS:
- Efficiency
- Relatively mistake-free
- Shot-selection
- Versatility
- Ability to contest shots
- Defensive potential
- Versatility to defend multiple positions
- Strong Intangibles
- Unselfishness
- High-level productivity
- Athleticism
- Size for position
- Wingspan
- Rebounding ability
- 3-point shooting percentages
- Ability to create separation from defender
- Quick release
WEAKNESSES:
- Ability to get to free throw line
- Go-to scoring mentality
- Ability to create own shot
- Advanced ball-handling skills
- Limited upside?
- Physical Toughness
- Older than class peers
Recent Tweets
All Tweets
DraftExpress: Wesley Johnson's name coming up a lot. He played mostly PF at Syracuse but Minnesota tried to make him a SG. Poor handle was also ignored.
2013-02-04 11:52:28
The HAX is simply ridiculous. I'm watching Corey Maggette & Wesley Johnson working out now. Hassan Whiteside, Lou Amundson wandering around.
2010-08-26 16:07:05
Bodog Rookie of the Year odds: John Wall 5/2, Blake Griffin 11/4, Evan Turner 3/1, DeMarcus Cousins 6/1, Wesley Johnson 15/2, Favors 10/1.
2010-06-25 14:39:01
RT @DaveTelep That's same Wesley Johnson who wasn't good enough to play on the Dallas Mustangs "A" team but did make "B" squad. Holy smokes.
2010-06-24 18:57:01
NBA Draft Media Day Interviews w/John Wall, Cole Aldrich, Wesley Johnson, Patrick Patterson, Ed Davis and Paul George: http://bit.ly/ceF4Gj
2010-06-24 15:48:00
Top 25s - Full List
RankCategoryTotal
16EFF23.9
22DRB/g6.4
17DRB224
24Stl58
193P%41
Team: Suns College Team: Lakers
PhysicalsPositions SalaryMisc
H: 6' 7"
W: 206 lbs
Bday: 07/11/1987
(27 Years Old)
Current: SF/PF
NBA:   SF/PF
Possible: SF
Agent: Rob Pelinka
High School: Corsicana
Hometown: Corsicana, TX
Drafted:  Pick 4 in 2010 by Timberwolves
Best Case: Shawn Marion
Worst Case: Travis Outlaw

Predraft Measurements
YearSourceHeight w/o ShoesHeight w/shoesWeightWingspanStanding ReachBody FatNo Step VertMax Vert
2010NBA Draft Combine6' 6.25"6' 7.25"2067' 1"8' 10"4.632.037.0
2009Vince Carter CampNA6' 7"2067' 0"NANANANA

Basic Per Game Statistics - Comprehensive Stats - Statistical Top 25s
YearLeagueNameGPMinPtsFGFGAFG%2Pt2PtA2P%3Pt3PtA3P%FTMFTAFT%OffDefTOTAstsStlsBlksTOsPFs
2014/15NBAWesley Johnson2630.58.83.37.742.52.14.347.81.23.335.61.11.385.30.72.73.51.50.80.80.62.3

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Rookie Retrospective: Wesley Johnson
January 2, 2011
Joseph Treutlein

David Kahn and the Minnesota Timberwolves rolled the dice in picking the 23-year-old late blooming Wesley Johnson with the 4th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, especially with other younger and seemingly more talented prospects on the board.

While most expected Johnson to be one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft, able to contribute in a versatile Josh Smith/Shawn Marion combo-forward type role, things have headed in a different direction for Johnson in his first 33 games, and it doesn't appear that it's for the better.



Part One: Offensive Role

Then:

As already discussed in each of our three previous scouting reports, Johnson fits the mold of your prototypical NBA small forward from a physical standpoint, and then some. His excellent size, length and athleticism give him a terrific base from which to build off of, and he's really rounded out his skill-set now as well.

Johnson contributes in a variety of areas for Syracuse, showing excellent versatility. Extremely unselfish and seemingly an outstanding teammate (on and off the court reportedly), the ball rarely gets stuck in his hands for more than a few seconds. He's a terror in transition and a force on the offensive glass, averaging over 10 rebounds per-40 minutes pace adjusted. His scoring efficiency is impressive considering the load he carries for Syracuse, as he shoots 59% from 2-point range and 46% from beyond the arc.
-NCAA Weekly Performers, January 15, 2010

Now:

In his lone season at Syracuse at the college level, Johnson played a style where he contributed in virtually every aspect of the game for his team, making full use of his outstanding physical tools by aggressively putting them to work all over the floor. From a stylistic standpoint, Johnson has been a completely different player at the NBA level, making a move from the combo forward position to seeing almost all of his minutes at shooting guard and being utilized in far fewer ways on the offensive end.

According to 82games.com, Johnson is seeing roughly 84% of his minutes at the shooting guard spot thus far this season, with the remainder coming at small forward and virtually none of his minutes coming at power forward. Compared to how many projected him to be utilized in the pros, this is a somewhat unexpected development.

Beyond pure position, Johnson's possession distribution has also changed drastically, which can easily be illustrated by looking at his half-court offensive numbers according to Synergy. Last season Johnson attempted 170 jump shots compared to 140 shots around the basket for the Orange, whereas this year he's already taken 184 jump shots compared to just 35 shots around the basket, being transformed into essentially a one-dimensional role player.

Further, three-pointers make up 43% of his field goal attempts this year compared to 30% in college, his usage or percentage of team possessions used has been more than cut in half, and his FTA/FGA have dropped from a respectable 0.35 to an abysmal 0.14, one of the lowest rates in the entire league.

Studying his film, it appears that Johnson's role is essentially to park himself behind the three-point line the vast majority of the time on offense in both half-court and up tempo situations. He mostly serves as just a cog for passing and shooting when the ball comes to him, and when he does make moves towards the basket both on and off the ball, it's from further out and with noticeably less aggressiveness than he showed as a college junior.

Part Two: Perimeter Shooting

Then:

The biggest development that must be discussed is the improvement Johnson has made as a perimeter shooter. A career 31.6% 3-point shooter going into this season, Johnson has made 25 of his 55 attempts from beyond the arc thus far, good for 46%. While the number of attempts he's averaging (just over 3) per game leaves something to be desired as far as the sample size is concerned, the smooth mechanics, deep range, quick release and terrific separation he creates elevating away from his defender should ease most of the concerns teams might have. As we discussed in the past, Johnson's issues mostly stemmed from poor shot-selection, and since that problem has completely evaporated, his percentages have sky-rocketed accordingly.
-NCAA Weekly Performers, January 15, 2010

Now:

The one offensive area where Johnson is making noteworthy, consistent contributions for his team this year, it appears his breakout junior season was not a fluke at least in this regard, as his percentages shooting the ball have held steady if not improved in most regards despite the increase in competition and the deeper three-point line.

Johnson's three-point percentage is down slightly from 41.5% as a junior to 39.7% his first year in the pros, but his overall points per shot on jumpers are up from 0.965 to 1.033 according to Synergy Sports Technology, and curiously enough Johnson has already attempted more shots off the dribble in the NBA than he did his final year in college, scoring an impressive 1.073 points per shot in those situations, which puts him in the 93rd percentile of NBA players.

To be fair, the majority of the shots Johnson are taking off the dribble are not out of pure isolations but more so one or two dribble pull ups that aren't closely contested, but he is regardless establishing himself as at least somewhat versatile within this segment of the game.

Looking at his shooting in depth, Johnson still possesses the smooth mechanics we observed evaluating him as a draft prospect, possessing a high and quick release and excellent balance even when on the move, showing good shot selection and the ability to hit shots in a variety of situations.

To this extent, Johnson has certainly quickly found himself a reason for his team to keep him on the floor, as his contributions in this area will continue to secure him a place in the league, but it appears the over-utilization of this area of his game is holding him back from being something more.

Part Three: Attacking the Basket

Then:

Still not what you would call a great shot-creator, Johnson continues to struggle to get to the free throw line at a high rate. His ball-handling skills are average at best, as his left hand is weak, he has a difficult time changing directions with the ball in tight spaces, and he's not very effective if he's unable to beat his matchup with his pure first step.

That's not as much of an issue with the way he's being used at the moment for Syracuse, but there are legitimate concerns about whether he can be the type of player that can take over (or finish off) an NBA game as a one on one scorer, particularly when being matched up with similarly sized NBA small forwards. To his credit, Johnson appears to understand his limitations and isn't very turnover prone.
-NCAA Weekly Performers, January 15, 2010

Now:

While Johnson's dribble-drive game wasn't what you would call a significant strength at the college level, his ability to get to the rim was at least respectable when you also considered his cuts off the ball, with nearly half of his shots in the half-court coming around the basket according to Synergy and him finishing well there by utilizing his length and athleticism. On the contrary, thus far in the NBA, his ability to get to the rim has been virtually non-existent, as he's barely shown anything in this regard.

From an isolation standpoint, Johnson has performed about as well as expected, not having the advanced ball-handling to break his man down and showing even less of the go-to scoring instinct than he did in college. His move from power forward to the shooting guard position has exasperated these problems further, as now he's going against quicker defenders with lower centers of gravity, making it even more difficult for him to get the first step and tempting him further to shooting over his now shorter opposition. Most of Johnson's isolations have indeed resulted in pull-up jumpers, and while he's done an adequate job in that regard, it limits him as a player overall.

The biggest reason Johnson's decline in attacking hurts him is how rarely he's now getting to the free-throw line, as he's averaging an abysmal 1.1 free-throw attempts per game in 28.8 minutes per game, amongst the ten worst players in that league on a per-minute basis. His ability to get to the line was already considered a weakness in college, and amazingly his pace-adjusted free-throw attempts in the pros are just a third of what they were in college, illustrating how insignificant this part of his game has truly been.

The most interesting thing about Johnson's decline is not his struggles in isolations, which was to be expected at least initially, but how little the Timberwolves have utilized him cutting off the ball, something he excelled with at the collegiate level. Off-ball cuts comprised 16.1% of his offensive possession at Syracuse according to Synergy (the highest rate among all small forwards in the draft last year), and that number has dropped to just 4.4% in the pros.

Further, on the rare occasions when Johnson is attacking the rim, he's doing so with a tentative finesse game that doesn't make use of his physical tools, rarely trying to power up over the opposition or draw contact, and struggling mightily especially when contested by weak-side help.

While much of the blame for this decline can be attributed to a lack of aggressiveness on Johnson's part, it's impossible to ignore how his positional change and the offensive play-calling of the Timberwolves has affected him, as there is just no sense of urgency to utilize Johnson in this regard.

Never known as a great shot-creator, there's no doubt that Johnson needs to play with a dynamic point guard who can get him the ball effectively in a position to score. With Jonny Flynn injured for most of the season, the Timberwolves have been forced to play with Luke Ridnour and Sebastian Telfair at the point for a majority of their minutes, which surely hasn't done Johnson any favors.



Part Four: Post-Up Offense, Offensive Rebounding, and Passing

While Johnson's post-up offense was not among his strengths in college, his ability to take advantage of mismatches on the block was at least occasionally utilized, with him scoring a solid 47 points on 48 possessions in the post last season. In the pros, he's been posted up just six times the entire season even though he's being guarded by players 1-3 inches shorter than him every night playing the two-guard position.

Further, Johnson's offensive placement spending almost all of his time behind the three-point line has significantly hurt his offensive rebounding opportunities, with his pace adjusted offensive rebounds per 40 minutes dropping from 2.3 to 1.0, taking away one of his best strengths as a player.

The one small area where Johnson hasn't seem to fallen off with his secondary skill set is passing, as he's dishing out a respectable 2.2 assists per game in 28.8 minutes, a good number if you still consider him a combo forward, but less impressive relative to other players in the league who see their minutes at the shooting guard position. Johnson's unselfishness helps him in this area, and he's even shown some versatility making passes on the move out of simple pick-and-rolls, but he's still just a solid cog in this area and not much more.

Part Five: Defense

Then:

Defensively, we run into the same issue we always do with Syracuse playershis team plays zone pretty much exclusively. Considering Johnson's phenomenal physical tools, thoughsize, length, athleticism, and his high activity level, it's not difficult to project him as a versatile and very effective defender at the NBA level. He already contributes nearly two steals and two blocks per game, and is able to switch seamlessly onto a variety of different styles of opponents without much of an issue.
-NCAA Weekly Performers, January 15, 2010

Now:

Contrary to his disappointing and more publicly spoken about offensive performance, Johnson has actually been quite impressive on the defensive end for a rookie, showing little signs of the fact that he played exclusively in a zone his final year in college.

Despite dealing with quicker opponents in isolation than he's ever faced before now playing the shooting guard position, Johnson has done pretty good work in isolations, showing good lateral quickness, making great use of his length and athleticism, and having enough to get by fundamentally against all but the elite offensive players in the league.

His sense of urgency can fall off at times and he definitely shows some struggles chasing smaller players around screens, but for the most part he's done a good job on this end of the floor in spite of not having the best defensive help behind him and playing a position where his strengths are perhaps not best suited.

His pick-and-roll defense had been a bit of a mixed bag thus far, however, as on one hand his length certainly helps close down passing lanes and makes him uniquely qualified to defend switches, but on the other hand he is prone to being beat severely when his man gets an opening to drive to the rim, as Johnson's higher center of gravity makes it very difficult to stay in front of his man laterally when he also had the advantage of using a screen to get the first step.

As a team defender, Johnson does a good job closing out on open shooters on the perimeter and is adequate making rotations and keeping his head up, but his ability to make impact help-side plays has drastically fallen off from what he did at Syracuse, with his pace adjusted blocks, steals, and defensive rebounds all being more than cut in half thus far. This, once again, is a combination of his positional change and a decreased display of aggressiveness, and his inability to thrive in these ways is seriously holding him back from reaching his potential, and may be impossible for him to do if he remains at the shooting guard position.

Outlook:

While it's still just 33 games into his career and it's unfair to just dismiss his above average contributions as a perimeter shooter, the fact still remains that Johnson is already 23 years old and was taken fourth overall in the draft, meaning expectations were significantly higher for him initially. The way Johnson is being utilized is certainly peculiar given his versatile skill set, but it is worth noting that he showed similar problems settling into a one-dimensional role his sophomore year at Iowa State. This makes it difficult to separate whether his current problems are primarily his own or a result of coaching decisions, but it's most likely a good amount of both.

Regardless, it is still quite possible that Johnson expands his game as he grows more comfortable in the NBA and his coaching and teammate situation evolves, as playing on one of the worst teams in the league certainly can't be helping any. The fact that all of the lottery players drafted after him this year have likewise struggled initially also makes his performance less disappointing, but at his age and given what he showed at Syracuse, he is certainly leaving many observers expecting more.
[Read Full Article]
 
NBA Draft Media Day Interviews: Wall, Aldrich, Johnson, Patterson, etc
June 24, 2010

[Read Full Article]
 
Situational Statistics: This Years Small Forward Crop
June 12, 2010
On the other side of the spectrum, Wesley Johnson stacks up fairly well here. At a below average 15.1 possessions per-game, Johnson scored a very respectable 1.02 PPP on a fourth ranked 49.2% overall field goal shooting mark. He turned the ball over at a less than average rate (13.3%), but didnt draw fouls on a high percentage on his shots (6.3%).

Johnson made his impact in half court sets for Syracuse, scoring on 45.4% of his non-transition possessions. Posting numbers right around the small forward positional averages in isolation and spot up situations, Johnson stood out in some less noticeable ways that some of the players well discuss later. His .979 post up points per-possession arent fantastic, nor are his 1.4 possessions per-game on the block, but his ability to take advantage of mismatches is an area of his game that should serve him well in the future.

On top of his ability to exploit smaller defenders, Johnson got 16.1% of his offense from cuts to the basket (1st). While he certainly benefitted from the players around him, his energy off the ball will serve him well early in his career as hell be able to get some shots up without having to create his own look. His ability to crash the glass for tips in will help in that area too (1.379 PPP, 3rd).

Though Johnson could stand to improve his 0.965 PPP and 36.5% shooting on jump shots, hes a solid finisher (1.23 PPP, 7th), who, like Aminu, has the athleticism and energy level to be a great player if he continues to develop his perimeter repertoire.
[Read Full Article]
 
Wesley Johnson Late Night ATTACK Athletics Workout
May 27, 2010

Video produced by Tad Hathaway of 312Media

11 p.m. Central Time, Saturday night, Tim Grovers ATTACK Athletics gym in Chicago.

Projected top 10 picks Wesley Johnson and Ed Davis are running on fumes after an incredibly long and busy day at the NBA combine. It consists of athletic testing, interviews with NBA teams, a media session and an extended sit-down with the NBA Players Association that goes on for nearly three hours.

Johnson and Davis are exhausted, but they need to get a workout in, and trainers Tim Grover and Mike Procopio are here to accommodate them in this incredibly important time of the year. Their agent, Rob Pelinka, is on hand as well, keeping tabs on everything that is going on inside the gym. Johnsons brother Craig sits right next to him, urging Wesley along.

In the corner are two sneaker company executives, here to evaluate the players both on and off the court and envision how they might look representing their companys brand.

They have to like what theyre seeing.

Johnson stands out immediately. He looks every bit as smooth and polished as we envisioned coming in. The explosiveness he shows is unmistakable despite the late hour and the fact that his body is running on nothing but adrenaline at this point. Some of the dunks he pulls off are incredibly impressive. He glides through the air with the body control of a 6-2 guard, despite measuring out the previous day at 6-7 in shoes with a 7-1 wingspan (ideal size for an NBA wing). Hes going to be a terror in transition right off the bat. Theres no question about that.

Johnson changes speeds fluidly, looking more comfortable executing advanced ball-handling moves in this setting than we expected. His mid-range game sharpens into focus. He elevates beautifully off the floor for a pretty pull-up jumper, creating separation and banking the shot off the glass effortlessly from 17 feet. His footwork is outstanding, his moves look quick and decisive, and the touch on his shot is excellent.



Any team working out Johnson over the next month or so is bound to come away extremely impressed. Hes far more skilled and polished than most players entering the NBA. Hes ready to contribute immediately, which has to be incredibly attractive to the teams in the lottery who want to get better right away.

The fact that Johnson a little bit older than other players in the lottery is probably working to his advantage at this point, since he comes in ready to play and is very much a proven commodity. He doesnt think that limits his upside though.

I look at that as a positive more so than a negative, he said. I didnt start playing basketball till the 8th grade or 9th grade. Im a late bloomer. Im still new to it basically. Im still learning a lot.

Perhaps more impressive is what weve learned about Johnson off the court. Hes an incredibly humble, well spoken young man with an excellent demeanor. He looks genuinely happy to be here, and hes not taking anything for granted at this stage.

Johnson was nearly a complete unknown going into the 2009-10 season. He was completely off the radar as a high school prospect and therefore does not share the same sense of entitlement that some of his fellow future lottery picks may struggle with at times.

That journey getting from high school to Syracuse taught me a lot, Johnson told us at the NBA combine. Bouncing around made me mature. It made me more hungry than anything. Ive had to prove a whole lot my whole life. Coming out of high school I wasnt highly recruited. At Iowa State I had to battle through adversity. At Syracuse I had to prove myself. Still to this day Ive had to prove myself. Im up for a challenge. Im a competitor. Theres a competitiveness inside of me.

Where will the next stage of Wesley Johnsons journey take him? Well find out on June 24.
[Read Full Article]
 
Analyzing the NBA Combine Measurements
May 22, 2010
Wesley Johnson isn't far behind him at 6-6 without shoes with an excellent 7-1 wingspan.
[Read Full Article]
 
NBA Combine Interviews: DeMarcus Cousins, Evan Turner, Wes Johnson
May 22, 2010
Part One:



Part Two:


[Read Full Article]
 
NCAA Weekly Performers, 1/15/10
January 15, 2010
Jonathan Givony

Likely the fastest riser of any draft prospect in this 2009-2010 NCAA season thus far, Wesley Johnson is already looking like a genius for deciding to transfer from Iowa State to Syracuse. He put himself on the map very early on with two outstanding games in the Preseason NIT in Madison Square Garden against Cal and North Carolina, and has continued his strong play into the Big East conference as well so far with outings like a 20 point, 19 rebound performance in a road win over Seton Hall.

As already discussed in each of our three previous scouting reports, Johnson fits the mold of your prototypical NBA small forward from a physical standpoint, and then some. His excellent size, length and athleticism give him a terrific base from which to build off of, and he's really rounded out his skill-set now as well.

The biggest development that must be discussed is the improvement Johnson has made as a perimeter shooter. A career 31.6% 3-point shooter going into this season, Johnson has made 25 of his 55 attempts from beyond the arc thus far, good for 46%. While the number of attempts he's averaging (just over 3) per game leaves something to be desired as far as the sample size is concerned, the smooth mechanics, deep range, quick release and terrific separation he creates elevating away from his defender should ease most of the concerns teams might have. As we discussed in the past, Johnson's issues mostly stemmed from poor shot-selection, and since that problem has completely evaporated, his percentages have sky-rocketed accordingly.
While Johnson starts at the 3 for Syracuse (alongside Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku), there is no question that his coach Jim Boeheim much prefers to play him at the 4. It usually only takes a few minutes for Boeheim to sub in a guard for Jackson, and this clearly makes both Syracuse and Johnson quite a bit more effective.

One of the reasons Johnson doesn't attempt all that many 3-pointers is because Syracuse would much rather get him the ball from 15-feet and in. It's here that Johnson can operate as a huge mismatch against most collegiate forwards, as he can elevate smoothly for a mid-range jumper if his man sags off him, or blow right past him with his terrific first step if he plays him too closely. He has great quickness making his way into the lane, and appears to have worked extremely hard on polishing up some very impressive spin moves.

Developing his post game would probably be the next step, as he's not always able to take advantage of his superior physical tools against weak defenders. He currently lacks much in the ways of footwork and doesn't appear to be the toughest guy around.

Still not what you would call a great shot-creator, Johnson continues to struggle to get to the free throw line at a high rate. His ball-handling skills are average at best, as his left hand is weak, he has a difficult time changing directions with the ball in tight spaces, and he's not very effective if he's unable to beat his matchup with his pure first step.

That's not as much of an issue with the way he's being used at the moment for Syracuse, but there are legitimate concerns about whether he can be the type of player that can take over (or finish off) an NBA game as a one on one scorer, particularly when being matched up with similarly sized NBA small forwards. To his credit, Johnson appears to understand his limitations and isn't very turnover prone.

Johnson contributes in a variety of areas for Syracuse, showing excellent versatility. Extremely unselfish and seemingly an outstanding teammate (on and off the court reportedly), the ball rarely gets stuck in his hands for more than a few seconds. He's a terror in transition and a force on the offensive glass, averaging over 10 rebounds per-40 minutes pace adjusted. His scoring efficiency is impressive considering the load he carries for Syracuse, as he shoots 59% from 2-point range and 46% from beyond the arc.

Defensively, we run into the same issue we always do with Syracuse playershis team plays zone pretty much exclusively. Considering Johnson's phenomenal physical tools, thoughsize, length, athleticism, and his high activity level, it's not difficult to project him as a versatile and very effective defender at the NBA level. He already contributes nearly two steals and two blocks per game, and is able to switch seamlessly onto a variety of different styles of opponents without much of an issue.

There isn't a great deal not to like about Johnson at the moment from an NBA perspective, and it's no wonder that he's shot up into the top-10 of most teams' draft boards with his stellar play. The only concern teams might have about taking him in the high lottery is whether he is a good enough shot-creator and overall scorer to develop into a first-option type, or if he's simply a terrific role-player.

Considering that he turns 23 this July, his upside may not be deemed quite as high as other combo forwards in this draft, such as Al-Farouq Aminu for example, who is three years younger than him. On the flip-side, he'll be coming into the NBA ready to help the team that drafts him immediately, and there is a lot to be said for that.
[Read Full Article]
 
Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big East Part Two (#6-10)
October 11, 2009
Jonathan Givony

After an outstanding freshman (06-07) season at Iowa Statewhich led us to write a lengthy scouting report that well now use as a referenceWesley Johnson appeared to stagnate in his sophomore (07-08) year, and promptly decided to transfer to Syracuse, where hell now be starting his junior season after sitting out all of last year (08-09).

Before we get into the progress the now 22-year old Johnson made between his first two seasons at Iowa State, it should be mentioned that hes already bounced around far more than normal for a player entering his junior year of college basketball. He initially committed to play at Louisiana Monroe in 2005, but instead opted to go the prep-school route after the coach that recruited him retired. He momentarily elected to head to Lon Morris College (Texas JUCO) but quickly thought better of that, instead picking the Patterson School in North Carolina for about two months, before again transferring to Eldon Academy in Michigan, a school that eventually shut down and left him out in the cold. He eventually committed to Iowa State largely due to the presence of assistant Jean Prioleau (now at TCU), but only stuck around for two years for unknown reasons, deciding to again leave, this time for Syracuse. While this constant nomadic drifting between cities and schools is surely not going to make or break his NBA prospects, its definitely something teams will look at when the time is right.

When we last looked at Johnson back in 2007, we marveled at his outstanding physical profile, particularly his terrific size, length and athleticism. Something went wrong after that excellent freshman season, though, as his minutes dropped somewhat, while his shooting percentages plummeted. It appears that Johnson fell in love with his 3-point shot excessively, as half of his attempts came from that range, while his rebounding and blocks dropped by about 50% and his turnovers increased. Its a pretty safe bet that Johnson was either moved or felt the need to move away from the combo forward position (where he thrived in a Shawn Marion-esqe role) and was reinvented or decided to reinvent himself as more of a swingman. He was also suffering from a nagging foot injury (reportedly a stress fracture) that surely played a role in his struggles, while there was apparently some sort of disagreement between him and the coaching staff regarding the extent that he should be playing on it, which may have led to him transferring.

With a fresh slate at Syracuse, there will be a number of areas to monitor in regards to his development as an NBA prospect. Johnson showed considerable shot-making ability in his last year at Iowa State, looking absolutely deadly coming off screens and making tough jumpers with a hand in his face. The problem is that he got way too caught up with this part of his game, to the point that his shot-selection looked downright awful at times. Johnson is clearly a much better shooter than the 33.3% he shot from beyond the arc in 2007-2008, the question is how much better? His willingness to avoid taking the terribly off-balance contested shots that he became known for as a Cyclone will play a huge role in this.

Secondly, for someone who is as athletic as Johnson is, you wouldnt always immediately guess that by the way he operates on the court. His rebounding numbers were paltry as a sophomore, and he doesnt get to the free throw line nearly as much as he should. The reason for that are his mediocre ball-handling skills, which make it extremely difficult for him to get to the rim in half-court situations, particularly using his left hand. His poor decision making shows up here as well, often in the form of ill-advised drives and turnovers.

Defensively, Johnson has the size, length and athleticism to guard multiple positions at both the college and NBA level, but you didnt always see him applying himself as much as he should. He seems to lack focus at times, and allows himself to get pushed around a bit too easily, as he appears to lack both bulk and some toughness to help get the job done. Regardless, Johnson has great potential in this area due to his excellent physical tools, and could develop into a very good defender in time with some good coaching, a better mentality, and more experience. We might have to wait a few years to get a better read on this, though, since hell be stuck playing in Syracuses ultra-conservative 2-3 zone defense for the time being.

Johnson is getting quite a bit of attention in the lead-up to the college basketball season, as Syracuses coaching staff has been pumping him up in a major way to the national media. With Jonny Flynn, Paul Harris and Eric Devendorf all decided to leave the team early for the professional ranks, the Orange will need Johnson to have a big year if theyre to hold their own in the tough Big East.
[Read Full Article]
 
Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12 (Part Three: #11-#15)
October 13, 2007
While there were many more heralded freshman entering the Big 12 last season, the most productive of them statistically came from off the beaten path-- Iowa State. Not even a top 150 high school recruit, Wesley Johnson caught the conference off guard, posting averages of 12 points and 8 rebounds per gamewhile beginning to familiarize his name with attentive NBA personnel in the process.

Standing 6-7, Johnson owns good size for a small forward prospect. He combines his height with freakish leaping ability and an outstanding wingspan, giving him even more of an advantage physically over most opposing wing players. Often the Cyclone freshman is able to jump two times in the same time that it takes others to jump once, a testament to the pogo stick leaping ability that he possesses.

As the season went on, it was more and more evident that we were looking at a legitimate small forward prospect, rather than the dreaded combo forward that so many 67 forwards often end up being labeled as. Johnson displayed the ability to shoot the ball from the three point arc as well as from midrange, although without any real consistency. He would go on stretches of hitting two or three 3-pointers for a couple of games in a row, but would then go without connecting on a single 3-point attempt in others. The lengthy forward even dropped five 3-pointers on Missouri last February, although in a blowout loss. In terms of the form on Wesleys shot, there is very little to complain about. He releases the ball from a high vantage point and gets the ball off in a hurry, while maintaining consistent form either shooting off the dribble or on the catch and shoot. Simply put, Johnson appears to be a better shooter than the numbers reflect.

Despite only tipping the scales at a meager 195 pounds, Wesley has displayed the ability to consistently post up opposing forwards. He often goes to a turnaround jumper on the blocks, which he is able to turn to either shoulder and hit with regularity. Strength is an area of his game that he will need to improve upon however, as bigger forwards will look to abuse his lack of bulk at the next level. For the moment, though, his slender frame hasnt posed too many problems for him.

Ball-handling is the one area of Johnsons game that clearly has the most room for improvement. He is strictly a two dribble straight-line dribbler, unable to create much more than what he is able to get from catching the defense off-balance with his initial first step. Often Wesley will look for a high ball screen when he has the ball in his hands, primarily to make up for his inability to create off of the dribble. His first step allows him to create enough space to get his shot off on a consistent basis, somewhat minimizing the effects of his below average dribbling ability.

The defensive end of the floor is where Johnson truly shows promise of being a special player. He does an excellent job of staying on the floor, while fully utilizing his outstanding length, both in terms of blocking shots and creating steals. The Texas native proved that he can defend both small forwards and power forwards, owning the quickness to keep in front of wings and the length to alter post players shots. Often forced to guard the opposing teams best forward prospect, Johnson proved to be one of Iowa States steadier defenders, despite only being a freshman.

With the departure of last years leading scorer Mike Taylor, the Cyclones will be Wesley Johnsons team this upcoming season. He will have the opportunity to vastly improve upon the intriguing numbers that he put up as a freshman, given that many more plays will certainly be called for him. Look for this season to be Johnsons breakout campaign, firmly placing him on the radar of NBA teams and making him a name discussed by die-hard basketball fans around the country.
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