Mock Draft Review 6. Jalen Johnson and Franz Wagner. & Open Thread

Bigger RJ Barrett and Mike Dunleavy III

This is a series of reviews of published mock drafts. Why do this?

  1. It’s fun.

  2. We are not looking for a precise prediction of draft order. This is a good chance to see the range of players that draft experts think GSW should be drafting outside of the Top 5. 

  3. Some of the drafts come from before the lottery, but it’s okay because they were already predicting GSW would pick #6 and #14, so they are proposing players in the right range.

Now you might think the Warriors are going to trade the picks to get immediate help for next season. I kind of think this too. However, it’s impossible to evaluate a trade and its opportunity cost without looking at what the draft picks might net you.

So without further ado, these mock drafts are from O’Donnell, SB Nation and Pring, Fansided.

#6 Jalen Johnson

O’Donnell, SB Nation: Johnson already felt like one of the more challenging evaluations in this class before he left Duke mid-season to prepare for the draft. He likes to play with the ball in his hands as a point-forward, especially in transition where he can grab a rebound, push the ball down the floor, and put pressure on the basket as a power athlete. He’s less suited for that role in the halfcourt because of an inability to consistently attack the rim, but his outside shooting troubles means he’s not exactly a floor spacer, either. He’ll need a creative head coach, plenty of shooting around him on the floor, and a team that can invest in improving his own shooting stroke.

Full Profile at Sports-Reference.com

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.

  • Athleticism

  • Playmaking

  • Rebounding

PLUSES

  • 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.

MINUSES

  • 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.


#14. Franz Wagner

Pring: The injury-laden Golden State Warriors had an up-and-down campaign, hovering around .500 basketball before gaining momentum towards the end, only to be eliminated with two straight blunders in the play-in tournament.

Next season, the Dubs are projected to be beck in the thick of things in the West, with Klay Thompson returning and James Wiseman improving. However, the Stephen Curry-led team still has a chronic issue to solve: three-point shooting outside of the Splash Brothers. For years, while the Warriors trotted out the two best shooters in history, the cast around them lacked a reliable outside shot. Michigan’s Franz Wagner could easily change that.

After striking out on a top pick, the 6’9 forward should immediately contribute to a Golden State team in need of shooting. His deft three-point stroke, off-ball movement and court awareness are all common motifs in Steve Kerr’s complex offense and Wagner should thrive as a sniper off the bench. Beware of his defense, though.

Profile from Sports-Reference.com

Wizzy’s Comps.

  • Per 40. Jordan Poole, Tyler Herro, Brandon Boston Jr., Tyler Lydon, D.J. Wilson, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Donovan Mitchell, Gary Trent Jr., Zhaire Smith

  • Advanced. Tyler Herro, Jordan Poole, Chuma Okeke, Marcus Bagley, Omari Spellman, Zhaire Smith, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, D.J. Wilson, Devin Vassell.

NBA Draft Room Comp: Tyler Honeycutt, Mike Dunleavy Jr. Damn that is cold-blooded.

Jon Chepkevich: Statistical best comparisons are

  1. Otto Porter Jr.

  2. Mikal Bridges

  3. Josh Green

  4. Devin Vassell

  5. Chuma Okeke

There is quite the array of rangy, multi-faceted, defensively-oriented wings here. This mold of player is highly sought after in the modern NBA, because it unlocks invaluable rotational/lineup flexibility. These guys can guard multiple positions, stay on the court in high-leverage moments, and ultimately catalyze winning basketball.

Kyle Boone, CBS Sports: Wagner can be an instant impact addition at that position, as he thrived for Michigan as a defensive specialist who can knock down 3s and provide support for the team's top dogs.

Sam Vecenie, The Athletic: Wagner has skyrocketed up draft boards in 2021. Why? His fit in the modern NBA is about as pristine as it gets. He’s a good shooter from distance with clean mechanics and strong percentages, having hit 39 percent from 3 this year. He’s also a smart cutter who really knows how to get free from his opponent and an overall good mover without the ball. And on defense, he’s absolutely terrific. His exclusion from the Big Ten’s All-Defense team was baffling, as he has absolutely tremendous off-ball instincts that allow him to make an impact rotationally all over the court. He uses his length and anticipation of what’s going to happen exceptionally well. And it’s not a situation where the stats don’t tell the story, either, as he averages over a steal and a block per game. The idea here is something similar to what Robert Covington provides.

Sam Vecenie, The Athletic: Wagner is an interesting 3-and-D prospect with real size at 6-9. His movement is terrific, with great lateral quickness. He can guard a variety of perimeter players on the ball, but his off-ball instincts are absolutely spectacular. He knows exactly where to be positionally, and his reactivity to get deflections is outstanding. The big question revolves around his shot, which comes and goes far too often. Sometimes, he looks like a legit 40 percent 3-point shooter in the future. Other times, he looks like a 30 percent guy and totally non-confident in the jumper mechanics. Whichever one he is will determine his career. If he becomes that high-level shooter, he’ll be a very high-level role player. If he doesn’t, he’s more in the vein of his brother, Moritz, as an end-of-the-rotation guy.

What they said: “They play man and then they’ll sneak in some 2-3 zone, and Wagner is great in both,” one Big Ten assistant said. “They play him in the corner of that zone, and you always have to account for him on the back side. It’s really tough to beat him cross-corner because he’s so solid with his technique closing out to shooters. And his length makes it tough to beat him off the dribble because he can move his feet. Then in their man-to-man, it’s the same deal. They use him on both scoring guards and on wings. And he doesn’t really get beat against those guys either. Part of why they’re so good on defense is that they give you different looks in terms of matchups and scheme.”

Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer: SHADES OF Lamar Odom, Danilo Gallinari, Xavier Tillman

Impactful as a versatile defender and an offensive weapon who can be utilized in a wide range of roles.

  • Perimeter Shooting

  • Playmaking

  • Off-Ball Defense

  • Feel for the Game

PLUSES

  • Good spot-up 3-point shooter who can drain shots off one or two dribbles.

  • Unselfish playmaker who has great court vision for his size and the ability to deliver accurate passes straight off the dribble.

  • Rarely turns the ball over.

  • In some systems, he could be a major threat facilitating from the elbow areas, running dribble handoffs with shooters or serve as the ball handler or screener in the pick-and-roll. 

  • Coordinated and decisive scorer who attacks with a plan the moment he receives a pass.

  • Glue-guy skills on offense: keeps the ball moving, relocates, screens, and has innate timing on his cuts.

  • Does an excellent job of sealing off smaller defenders on the post, which could be of great value against switching defenses.

  • Has a computer brain on defense. Reads plays instantly and disrupts actions by beating opponents to their spots. He will make a significant impact as an off-ball defender throughout his career.

  • Reliable on-ball defender who’s stout against players his size, with the lateral quickness to switch screens onto some smaller players. Agility improved dramatically after his freshman season and could be enhanced further in an NBA strength and conditioning program.

  • Brother of NBA player Moe Wagner.

MINUSES

  • Lacks shake-and-bake moves scoring off the dribble, which likely limits upside as a go-to option. Also reluctant to drive or finish with his left.

  • Improving his off-hand would help his finishing at the rim, though he does compensate some with his swooping runners in the lane.

  • Not an above-the-rim athlete.

O’Donnell, SB Nation: Don’t put too much stock into Wagner’s brutal final game against UCLA (1-of-10 shooting): he can be one of the better two-way prospects in this draft, especially if he gains more confidence in his jump shot. Wagner is an impressive defensive prospect who can challenge shots inside and hold its own on the perimeter. Offensively, Wagner is another good passer who can attack the basket as a cutter, but seems to question his own three-point shot despite decent college shooting numbers (34 percent from three on 102 attempts).


Brief Thoughts

Jalen Johnson seems like one of those exciting Anthony Edwards type prospects that will need seasoning, which is not what GSW is about right now.

Franz Wagner got compared to Mike Dunleavy Jr which is something I had a rough time getting over. But then Chepkevish came in with the Otto Porter / Mikal Bridges / Devin Vassell comps. So… His brother Mo Wagner is already in the NBA and is one of the most f’ing egregious floppers in the game, so let’s hope that doesn’t run in the family.