Johnson, 23 years old, was pinned by some scouts as a late first-round talent, but many draft boards had him going early in the second round. By drafting the UNC swingman, Phoenix took a chance on one of the oldest players in the draft this year.
Here are three bold predictions for Cameron Johnson’s rookie season.
1. He will struggle to adjust to the NBA game … at first
What many of the naysayers fail to realize is that Cameron Johnson has been under the wing of a member of college basketball’s Mount Rushmore for three years. He had a crazy journey to get to UNC, which Sports Illustrated documented, but Roy Williams groomed the grad transfer into an exceptional player.
Johnson is a gifted shooter and defender and could end up being a 3-and-D guy in time. However, while he’s already on the old side and could be viewed as a more NBA-ready player, he’s going to struggle at first.
In most cases, rookies in The Association don’t come in and make an immediate impact on their team. Johnson is joining a team with a host of young wings and bigs in Josh Jackson, Deandre Ayton, Dragan Bender, Mikal Bridges and the newly acquired Dario Saric. Kelly Oubre Jr. could also return on the wing. All of these players are 25 or younger, and there are position battles ahead.
2. He will be second on the team in 3-pointers made and lead NBA Rookies
As aforementioned, Johnson is a shooter. A good shooter who shot nearly 45.7% from 3 while being his team’s second option in the sport’s best conference.
OK, correction: he’s an exceptional shooter.
Many people believe he has the best form in this year’s draft class. I see him being a guy who can translate his numbers from nearly 46% in college to 37-40% in the pros. He has the form and the work ethic to do it, and even if he initially struggles to adjust to the pro game overall, he should still be able to shoot it at least.
Furthermore, while this may be a stretch, it’s worth noting that players often have contests for fun. Picture Devin Booker going up against a rookie who shot almost 46% from 3 in his final season in college. Yeah, it would be awesome to see just how far these guys can push each other.
3. He will make an All-Rookie team
In his senior season, Cameron Johnson averaged about 30 minutes per game. In those minutes, Johnson put up 16.9 points per game on 50.6% from the field, 45.7% from 3, and 81.8% on free throws.
Not only can Johnson shoot the lights out, but he’s also 6’9 with long arms. With that length comes the ability to guard multiple positions. As he learns the schemes of the Suns, he will be able to mesh well and help Monty Williams’ defense. Moreover, he could end up being the third-best player on this team by the 2020 All-Star Game.
It will be a roller-coaster year for Cameron Johnson, but I look forward to seeing how he responds to being such a high selection.