The Boiling Point: JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore’s draft prospects.
In a couple days former Boilers JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore will be taking the next step in their basketball careers. Both have been all over the place working out for teams, seemingly in a new city every day. Based on what I have seen and heard both should be hearing their names called Thursday night. Here is a synopsis on their biggest strength/weakness, what players in the NBA I think their games will most resemble, as well as where I think they will be drafted.
For being a consensus All-American with so many teams looking for post players, JJ is not being appreciated like he should. Right now it seems as though a lot of teams are banking on finding the next great international big man as numerous international prospects are ranked ahead of JJ on draft charts. While JJ might not be a lock to become an all-star in the NBA, he will at least be able to contribute with good minutes. He will project as a stretch 4/5 with some time potentially at the 3.
The biggest thing JJ needs to work on is his strength. He seems to have quieted some critics after putting up 15 reps on the bench press at the combine; good for 9th overall. The main place he needs strength that not many people talk about is his core/lower body. That is what will enable him to keep position on the blocks whether on defense or offense. JJ’s greatest strength is his athleticism. At the combine he finished 9th in the ¾ court sprint. The rest of the top 10 were all guards. His verticals were also in the top half of the top 10. His other strength is, with his size, being able to hit mid-range shots, even potentially stretching out to three point line with work on it.
It’s hard to identify one player that is most like JJ in the NBA. Some people say a poor man’s Kevin Durant or Dirk Nowitzki, but JJ isn’t close to their skill level with ball handling and hitting NBA 3’s with consistency. Another player I’ve heard is Tyson Chandler, but JJ isn’t the banger inside he his yet, and JJ can hit outside shots. The player I would most compare to JJ right now is Chris Bosh. I didn’t follow his skills all that close until the playoffs started so I didn’t realize Bosh had the outside game he does. Bosh torched team after team on mid range jumpers. JJ would have the edge on mental toughness though.
Draft Projection: I think JJ has the upside to go as high as 15, but it seems as though he is lacking the “hype” coming into the draft and he could unjustly go as low as 30 or even beginning of second round. I agree with ESPN’s Chad Ford when he had him being taken at 25 by the Boston Celtics to get mentored by a rapidly aging Kevin Garnett. Another place to look, as reported here previously, is the Chicago Bulls at 28 or 30. That would only happen if the Bulls traded one of their four post players for a shooting guard.
Usually when a player is a top 3 scorer in school history on a power conference team, they are more highly regarded. This doesn’t seem to be the case with E’Twaun. He doesn’t project to be, and most likely won’t be, an all-star on the next level, and may even just be a role player for his career, but he has the upside to potentially be a starter in the right situation. One thing that seems to be hampering him is scouts keep saying he doesn’t have a set position; something that should be a positive in versatility. E’Twaun will most likely be a combo guard, spending most of his time at shooting guard.
The biggest thing E’Twaun needs to work on is his ball handling. On the college level, it’s not a weakness whatsoever. With E’Twaun though, it could be something that is essential to getting playing time in the NBA. Some scouts seem to think it’s his athleticism that needs work, but as any person who followed his career at Purdue knows, he is more athletic than he looks. Sometimes it looks like he is going in slow motion, then the next second he is at the rim. He will prove that to coaches fairly quickly on the next level. It’s hard to lock down a specific strength for E’Twaun, but for helping himself on the next level I’d say his defense. That’s what he is going to have to hang is hat on at first, before he can show what else he can do. It is always mystifying to me what scouts don’t see in players or decide to just plain ignore.
There are two types of views you can take to project what player E’Twaun will be like on the next level. Can take the “experts” view and say he will be like a Ronnie Brewer (which isn’t a bad thing) and be all about defense. Or you can take the view of someone who has watched every game he has played in college and not ignore what you’re seeing. That’s the view I’ll go with. The player I see him most emulating on the next level is Brandon Roy; hopefully minus the injuries.
Draft Projection: It seems as though E’Twaun has proven himself at the combine as well as in workouts. He has gone from potentially going undrafted to being projected getting taken early to mid second round. While I won’t be as optimistic as the Bulls blog we referenced on the site that says they take him at 28, I could see the Bulls taking him with the 44tth pick, as long as the Charlotte Bobcats don’t take him at 39. Shooting guard is a major need for the Bulls, and with E’Twaun being able to shoot and play defense he fits in there very well. All of the Bulls shooting guards can either shoot or play defense, not both. Judging from recent rumblings, don’t be surprised if he goes sooner.
I look forward to seeing both of them taking the next step in their careers. The NBA draft takes place this Thursday at 7:30pm eastern on ESPN. Pre-draft show is at 7pm eastern, also on ESPN.