Dub Nation HQ Draft Tourney: #5 Jalen Johnson vs #12 Usman Garuba
Video game stats question mark vs hyper defender
The whole tournament is at 2021 Dub Nation HQ Draft Tournament.
Your mission is to decide which of these two you would prefer the Warriors draft at #7 this year. I’ll bring the scouting reports, you bring the vote.
Mock Drafts For GSW: O’Donnell, SB Nation
Profile from Sports-Reference.com
Per 40: Josh Jackson, Dontonio Wingfield, Mark Davis, Elden Campbell, Walter McCarty, Chris Webber, Julian Wright, Chris McCullough, DayRon Sharpe
Advanced: Josh Jackson, DayRon Sharpe, Ben Simmons, Kyle Anderson, Cade Cunningham, Jalen Suggs, Draymond Green, Royce White, Reggie Perry
NBA Draft Room Comp: Tobias Harris
Sam Vecenie, The Athletic: We’re in the part of the draft where there are some real flawed but interesting prospects who have high upsides but low floors. In the case of Johnson, he’s a tremendous ballhandler and transition player for his size at the four. His best skill, though, is his passing ability. He’s very creative in how he sees over the defense, and he makes a lot of tough reads. The problem is that he’s not a particularly adept half-court scoring threat. Teams will just play the pass against him because he doesn’t shoot it confidently yet and doesn’t have an in-between floater game yet. If he ever shoots it, though, he has a good shot to turn into a real starter.
Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer: SHADES OF Aaron Gordon, Rudy Gay, Bigger RJ Barrett
Versatile forward who pressures the rim in the open floor, though his half-court skills need to come a long way.
Playmaking is his best skill. Delivers an accurate ball off the bounce and has great court awareness. Would have averaged far more assists if his Duke teammates hit shots.
Has great open-floor speed and athleticism. If his jumper develops, he could thrive in the pick-and-roll, as he has the height to see over the defense and make passes smaller players can’t.
Clearly has half-court value as a screener and interior finisher off cuts and dump-off passes. The way the Sixers utilize Ben Simmons is a road map to getting production out of him.
Isn’t much of a low- or high-post scorer yet but already shows good passing chops.
Active rebounder who can grab-and-go on the break.
Versatile on-ball defender with the lateral quickness and strength to contain players of all sizes.
Good off-ball defender rotating to help at the rim or closing out to shooters.
Ineffective shooter with stiff mechanics. Hit more than half his shots off the catch, but his form, low free throw percentage, and lack of success shooting at lower levels doesn’t inspire much confidence in his potential
Averse to contact at the rim. Prefers to finish with finesse. Though a good finisher as is, there’s room to improve
Overconfident passer who commits too many avoidable turnovers
Inconsistent defender who goes through stretches when he gets caught ball-watching or doesn’t put full effort in to get a stop
Teams worry about his character after leaving IMG Academy during his senior year of high school, then departing from Duke after just 13 games.
Hollinger, The Athletic: There are all kinds of questions about Johnson right now, and teams are digging in and doing their homework about how much is genuinely concerning. There are also some basketball concerns; he is not a great shooter, and as a driver and finisher, he was much more effective operating in transition than in the half court.
But there is a pretty sharp talent cliff at this point in the draft, and Johnson comes just before the ledge. Whatever the other concerns, it’s inarguable he’s shown the talent to be a starting power forward in the NBA. Watching him reminds me a bit of a player in Memphis, James Johnson; like his namesake, this Johnson can play as a big while operating as an on-ball creator on offense, but he can also be plagued by wildness and inconsistent shooting.
Johnson put up video-game stats in his limited time at Duke — 30.4 points, 16.4 rebounds and 6.0 assists per 100 possessions, with a 25.1 PER. He had 3.1 steals and 3.3 blocks per 100, with the steal rate, in particular, being pretty insane for a 6-foot-9 power forward. He also made plenty of mistakes, possessing the highest turnover rate of any prospect in this draft. My research, though, indicates that otherwise productive prospects with insane turnover rates aren’t notably worse off in the pros.
The eye test is maybe not quite as bullish. Offensively, he has a pretty good first step and ball skills for his size. However, he struggles to adjust the plan when his initial path is cut off. Defensively, he can be a major disruptor as a secondary defender off the ball, but he can be a bit upright and tight-hipped on it.
I get the overall concerns, and I don’t want to minimize them. But there is massively more upside here than with any other player remaining on the board. Yes, it feels high for a risk-reward pick like this, except the middle of this draft isn’t strong. The ninth overall pick also bombs a lot more often than people realize (we recently had Dennis Smith Jr. and Kevin Knox go ninth in consecutive years, for instance), so this is where the equation on Johnson starts turning favorable. It’s possible he bombs, but this is as low as I can put him.
NBA Draft Room Comp: faster Tristan Thompson
Sam Vecenie, The Athletic: Defense, defense, defense. Garuba is already one of the best defenders in Europe as a teenager and profiles as a potential All-Defense Team guy in the NBA by the time he’s 25. He can really defend on the interior, with terrific fundamentals for verticality and weak-side shot blocking. His ability to slide his feet and drop his hips laterally is ridiculous, and his instincts as a pick-and-roll defender are terrific. The problems come on offense. He’s still not a particularly effective player on that end, but there have been signs of progress. He had two games last week against Anadolu Efes in EuroLeague play that were positive signs, including a ridiculous 24-point, 12-rebound performance. He also has been making more 3s recently, but it’s going to take some time.
Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer: SHADES OF OG Anunoby, Kenneth Faried
Hyper defender who always makes the extra effort but needs to define an offensive role.
Plays with elite defensive effort and intelligence. He’s always locked in and flies around the floor for blocked shots, steals, and deflections.
Switchable defender with the bulk to handle bigger players and the agility to match up against quicker wings and even guards. He’s aware and does a good job of using his hands to shut passing windows.
Skilled passer who immediately finds the open man and delivers the ball with precision. If his scoring improves, he could facilitate in the half court using dribble handoffs and his solid handle.
A strong rebounder and a threat to push the ball on the break if he’s not outleting it to a sprinting teammate.
He doesn’t have a big vertical, which hurts him as a finisher around the rim.
Struggles shooting the ball. He has a poor percentage from the line and hasn’t shown much touch away from the rim. Past opponents left him wide open behind the arc, just as they will in the NBA.
Hollinger, The Athletic: My rule of thumb, as ever: Guys who play in high-level European leagues as teenagers hold their own and don’t fail. Garuba played a total of 86 games (!) for Real Madrid this year as a rotation big at the age of 18, showed fairly steady improvement as the year went on and probably can be an NBA-caliber defender from Day 1 as either a four or a smallball five.
However, I can’t put him any higher than this because of the potential limitations on the offensive side. He’s a good athlete but not a freak, and he’s undersized at the five. So where is his advantage? At 6-foot-8 without elite shot-blocking or rebounding numbers on his resume, he’s going to have a hard time carving out a role as a full-time center, even in a downsized NBA. Adding enough skill to play some minutes next to a true five is going to be his pathway to becoming a starting-caliber player.
On that front, Garuba remains a work in progress. He flies up and down the court in transition and has started to steady his 3-point shot from the corners (31.6 percent this year). He also actually shows some ball skills when his team lets him paint outside the lines. That said, Garuba isn’t a great finisher around the basket.
Ultimately, I see a potential comparison for Garuba as a bigger version of Toronto’s OG Anunoby. He can guard on the perimeter, and his switchability means he won’t get played off the floor. At least on defense. He needs the shooting to come around to have starter value, and that’s why he’s just outside the lottery on my board.
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