2015 NBA Draft Player Profile: Dakari Johnson

Johnson spent a multitude of time with other college studs (notably the likes of KAT and Cauley-Stein) as a member of the Kentucky Wildcats. He started off his journey by being nominated to the McDonald’s All American Boys Game and shared floor time with spectacles such as Julius Randle. Johnson gave the world a semi-shock when he elected to return to college for another year. Here, he encountered a new team filled with tremendous depth at his desired front court position.

From freshmen to sophomore year, Johnson’s efficiency dropped significantly but he saw rapid rises in almost all other aspects of his game. He finished college averaging 5.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG and 0.8 BPG in about 15 minutes per contest. His rather dull line can be attributed to the rise of stars like KAT and Cauley-Stein, but based on what he’s shown so far, it really isn’t an issue to imagine why he fell to OKC at the 48th pick. Only time will tell if Johnson can continue to improve statistically or fizzle out like many others who came before him in the second round of draftees.

Graphic via aseaofblue

During his Summer League showing, Johnson was able to post impressive stats in points and rebounding that can speak to his continued development. He was able to gobble up every board within his reach by utilizing his impressive motor and hustle capabilities. Johnson contributed to the tune of nearly 8 PPG and 9 RPG in only about 27 minutes per contest. If we extrapolate those numbers to a per 36 minute basis, we have ourselves stats of a starting caliber center for most NBA teams.

Johnson’s efficiency problems seeped through the cracks and reappeared again during the course of his Summer League career. For a center to shoot only 49% from the field on mainly dunks and layups is on the low side of things. He was also pretty much a vegetable on the defensive end. For a 7 footer to not even average a block or steal per game speaks to their inconsistency when trying to protect the basket. He simply could not contribute on defence due to poor positioning and low basketball IQ. Pair that with a sudden slowness and we can all understand why Johnson resembles a stick when forced to guard opposing players. There is hope though, if he can turn things around off the ball, then we can expect a solid backup center from Johnson in the near future and from there, the sky’s the limit.
Fit On The Oklahoma City Thunder:

Johnson’s role is going to be set as a third string center behind Kanter and Adams. This already means extremely limited PT for Johnson. Fuse that with the fact that OKC is a no-nonsense organization who could ultimately end up with the first seed in the West, it’s to be expected Johnson will not see a second on the court unless he can correct his defensive flaws. Otherwise, his contributions will be null and his rookie year will be long lived on the bench keeping it warm for stars like Westbrook, Durant and Ibaka.
On the flip side, this could help Johnson in the grand scheme of things. Who better to assist his defensive woes than Ibaka? Tutelage from a true defensive anchor can elevate Johnson’s game into that resembling a solid role player and from there he can try to carve out time to prove himself. If that can’t help him then there really isn’t much hope for the future of Dakari Johnson.

Graphic via zimbio

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