Alexander Johnson NBA Draft Scouting Report

Alexander Johnson NBA Draft Scouting Report
Jun 01, 2006, 03:26 am
Alexander Johnson has the type of body that would put most body-builders to shame with how trim and chiseled his physique is. After battling weight problems for much of his college career, Johnson is even a little too skinny right now, but has a perfect frame to continue to add weight. His shoulders are massively broad and his waist is slim, while his lower body looks outstanding. In the unlikely scenario that he does not make it in basketball, Johnson most certainly has a future in the NFL as a tight end. He is down to 225 pounds, and is considered by many to be the most athletic power forward in this draft after Tyrus Thomas. His feet are extremely nimble, his vertical leap is off the charts (somewhere in the 40” area), and he gets off his feet as quickly as any big man in this draft, often to pull down monster rebounds well out of his area.

Offensively, he has some very nice basic post moves, including a sweet jump-hook shot with either hand that is very tough to stop due to the quickness in which he spins and gets it off. He does a good job establishing deep position in the paint, but doesn’t see a ton of one on one situations in the paint as he doesn’t have a true playmaker or post entry passer on the team. When he does get the ball, his explosiveness and aggressive demeanor make him a magnet for drawing fouls. As his ball-skills continue to improve, he’ll be able to utilize his terrific first step to take people off the dribble and draw fouls that way as well. At the free throw line, he has a nice looking stroke, getting plenty of air underneath the ball, and should develop into a consistent 75%+ shooter as he continues to work on this part of his game. In transition is where Johnson might have the most success in the NBA, as the way he runs the floor combined with his outstanding quickness and leaping ability put him in a class of his own.

Johnson can also step outside and knock down the jump-shot outside to 18 feet, displaying nice elevation and a high release point, or even beyond that at times as he’s shown knocking down some 3-pointers this year. In the high post, he has a good feel for making unselfish passes, rifling in rocket passes the way he only hope would be returned to him next time down the floor.

Defensively, he is tough and aggressive, using his body well, being very physical and moving his feet extremely well. Florida State liked to front the post quite a bit, which reduced his chances of being a shot-blocking threat, but this is a part of his that we might see more out of in the pros in a traditional defense when foul trouble isn’t as much of an issue as it was in college.

As a rebounder, he is tenacious; combining both superb quickness and leaping ability with the willingness to go after anything that is even remotely in his area.

In terms of intangibles, Johnson’s are very solid. He is a very hard worker, a great competitor and reportedly an excellent teammate, being the player that his coaching staff repeatedly pointed out as their best player to have in practices.

Johnson still isn’t an extremely polished player in any facet of the game besides rebounding. He can be a bit passive at times, floating in and out of the game and not maintaining his focus at all times, being a bit tentative in his decision making and struggling to stay out of foul trouble. Offensively, he still needs to add polish to his all-around game. He’s clearly still getting used to his new dimensions as a player both in terms of his physical attributes as well as the skills he’s picked up since shedding so much weight, and doesn’t quite know how to fully utilize his skills and athleticism at this point in his career. He only began to fully realize how good he is towards the end of the season, and therefore did not put up amazing numbers in college. High-level experience and a great feel for the game are still question marks for him. Despite already being a 23 year old junior, he still lacks some major polish.

Defensively, he doesn’t quite have the height or the length to be a huge presence, but this is not really an area he can afford to show too much in considering the way his team likes to front the post as well as his tendency to pick up cheap fouls. His hands are a bit on the small side, meaning he will have to work a little harder than most to be a double-digit rebounder.

Johnson was a top-30 prospect coming out of high school and a borderline McDonald’s All-American. He initially committed to Georgia, just a few hours from his home in Albany, but academic issues forced him to spend a year in prep-school first. Eventually landing as at Florida State, he showed outstanding potential initially and looked to be on his way to cashing in on a first round contract, finishing 3rd in the voting for ACC freshman of the year after two top-10 lottery picks in Luol Deng and Chris Paul. His sophomore year did not go according to plan, suffering from a severe hamstring injury that hampered him for much of the way, gaining plenty of weight and playing extremely tentatively as if he was afraid to do anything that would risk getting injured again. Physically, he was not the same, but it was mentally that Johnson struggled the most.

Despite the rumors of a new and vastly improved Johnson coming in the preseason, his junior year initially started off much like his sophomore year did, but for completely different reasons this time. Florida State’s extremely athletic guards could not or would not find a way to utilize the talent they had inside the post, and Johnson had trouble figuring out how to take advantage of his vastly improved frame.

A mediocre outing at Clemson eleven games into the season was when Johnson bottomed out, shooting 4-10 from the field, picking up 4 fouls and failing to pick up even one rebound in 30 minutes in a nail biting loss. After that, the light-bulb appeared to have come on and we saw a player intent on showing everyone that he is one of the top big men in the ACC after Shelden Williams. Behind a new offense that looked to get Johnson involved early and often, he scored in double figures and pulled down at least 9 rebounds in 10 of his last 13 games of the season, putting Florida State squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble, but on the outside looking in on Selection Sunday.

Johnson is in the draft for good after declaring and hiring an agent. After initially being projected as a 2nd round pick, he’s helped himself tremendously in early workouts and now has a very good chance of slipping into the mid-late first round. His strength, physicality, freakish athleticism, and budding face-up skills are all tailor made to the NBA private workout setting. Chicago, Indiana, Washington and New Jersey are probably the highest drafting teams that he has a good shot of landing at. What makes him intriguing is the fact that at age 23, he is ready to come in and play right away, but still has a considerable upside to continue to improve.

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