A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That




Today's post comes with a bit of everything.  No song, but as you can see the video up top is our very first attempt at self-produced video on the site.  We still need to by an external mic for our little Kodak Zi8 and an mp3 voice recorder, but we'll get there...we'll get there.  Loads of goodies about the Wes Johnson workout, draft rumors, and our daily draft board poll. 

First of all, let me say this about Wes Johnson: He looks like an NBA wing.  The guy has legit length, size, hops, and quickness.  Even on the basis of arms, legs, and athleticism, he is, on first glance, a souped-up Corey Brewer

Height w/shoes Weight Wingspan Standing Reach No-Step Vert Lane Agility
Wes Johnson 6'7.25" 206 7'1" 8'10" 32" 11.43
Corey Brewer 6'7.75" 185 6'8.25" 8'7" 30.5" 11.69

Just looking at the guy, you can tell that there are no herky-jerky chicken-with-his-head-cut-off movements available in his action canon.  He may not have the greatest handle (and he doesn't; the team ran a lot of pick and roll situations on the wing for the guy and he's not going to be anyone's idea of Chris Paul with the ball out there) but everything looks fluid, unforced, and explosive.  Were the Wolves to draft the guy, he'd be their most natural, useful, and explosive basketball athlete from day one...and yes, I qualify that statement because of the existence of track star Ryan Hollins.  

Getting back to the souped-up Corey Brewer thing, I think this is pretty much the consensus of his talent.  Corey Brewer with a jump shot.  Corey Brewer who can catch the ball.  Corey Brewer with better hops.  Corey Brewer with better length.  Corey Brewer with a better handle.  He may not have Corey's motor or b-ball IQ (I don't think he does), but in terms of skill and natural ability, this is a guy you could put out there at the 3 from day 1 and fell somewhat confident that he'd already be better than anyone currently on the Wolves' roster.  

The kicker with Johnson is...well there are a few: 

  • His age.  This was kind of joked about/dismissed by David Kahn and Jonny Flynn, but there is no denying that age is one of, if not the biggest, leading predictors of success in the transfer from college to the pros.  Now, age may be thought of strictly in terms of college experience (after all, the guy had to sit out a year and we can't really hold that against him), so it may really mean wear on the tires and available college experience, but Wes Johnson will be 23 years old at the start of the season.  Let's say it takes him 2 years to learn how to play man defense and get used to the NBA.  This means you have a guy in his effective prime for what...3-4 more years at best?  Just how much more can his game change for the better (which is far different than improvement of what he already has)? 
  • His record at Iowa State.  There is no way Cyclone Wes Johnson is a lottery pick.  No way.  How much of his improvement was related to the systems he played in?  
  • His handle.  It's not what you'd expect for a guy on the wing in a 1/2 court setting.  He'll be fine in transition, and I can see why the Wolves are drooling over the guy in terms of a running offense, but he's clearly not someone who is going to be shaking opponents down off the dribble. 
  • He doesn't get to the line.  One of the things I have harped on over and over and over and over again is that you need guys on the team who can put the ball on the floor and get to the line at a high clip.  There is nothing in Wes Johnson's history to suggest that he is this type of player.  Nothing.  Free throws matter.  A lot.  
That being said, Johnson does a number of things very well.  He rebounds his position well, he is an efficient scorer, he doesn't require a gigantic number of possessions to be effective, and, if his last year at Syracuse is to be used as the guideline, he's a fairly solid shooter.  Here's how he breaks down between the Big East and the Big 12 (all stats taken from the excellent Kenpom and DX sites): 


%poss eFG OR%/DR% TORate Blk% Stl% FT/FG 2p% 3p% PPR
Wes Johnson Syracuse 21.4 56.4 7.6/18.3 17.4 5.7 2.7 35.2 .540 .415 -2.41
Wes Johnson's last year ISU 27.6 47.7 5.8/10.9 17.6 1.5 2.0 27 .456 .333 -4.28

For a comparison, here are Corey Brewer's last two college years:

%poss eFG OR%/DR% TORate Blk% Stl% FT/FG 2p% 3p% PPR
Junior 25.2 53.1 5.1/13.6 20.6 1.4 3.8 44 .544 .336 --1.98
Senior 25.3 52.6 6.0/13.3 22.6 1.5 3.2 39 .527 .350 -2.15

Wes has an amazing year in one of the toughest leagues in college basketball.  He also showed zero signs of being a lotto pick at ISU.  That is something of a cause for concern with a soon-to-be 23 year old with the 4th pick...especially with DeMarcus Cousins likely on the board and Paul George, Xavier Henry, and James Anderson available later on in the draft.  Anywho...

What stands out in Johnson's Syracuse year is his rebounding and his combination of solid shooting, blocks, and steals.  He has all the marks of a guy who is very active off of the ball.  It even shows up in deeper places

• Wesley Johnson looks exponentially more NBA ready than Al-Farouq Aminu from a situational perspective, but both have improvements to make from the perimeter.

...

On the other side of the spectrum, Wesley Johnson stacks up fairly well here. At a below average 15.1 possessions per-game, Johnson scored a very respectable 1.02 PPP on a fourth ranked 49.2% overall field goal shooting mark. He turned the ball over at a less than average rate (13.3%), but didn’t draw fouls on a high percentage on his shots (6.3%). 

Johnson made his impact in half court sets for Syracuse, scoring on 45.4% of his non-transition possessions. Posting numbers right around the small forward positional averages in isolation and spot up situations, Johnson stood out in some less noticeable ways that some of the players we’ll discuss later. His .979 post up points per-possession aren’t fantastic, nor are his 1.4 possessions per-game on the block, but his ability to take advantage of mismatches is an area of his game that should serve him well in the future. 

On top of his ability to exploit smaller defenders, Johnson got 16.1% of his offense from cuts to the basket (1st). While he certainly benefitted from the players around him, his energy off the ball will serve him well early in his career as he’ll be able to get some shots up without having to create his own look. His ability to crash the glass for tips in will help in that area too (1.379 PPP, 3rd). 

Though Johnson could stand to improve his 0.965 PPP and 36.5% shooting on jump shots, he’s a solid finisher (1.23 PPP, 7th), who, like Aminu, has the athleticism and energy level to be a great player if he continues to develop his perimeter repertoire.

Sounds like someone who could use a good point guard.  Although, you do have to wonder if the Wolves run a wing-centric 1/2 court offense how a player like Johnson would fit into the mix.  If we're talking a Princeton style bit, fine, but the words "Triangle-based" and a guy with no handle has me thinking they should go down the cash-out-on-Evan-Turner route more than taking a guy like Johnson with the 4th pick when, as mentioned before, there are plenty of later-round options for someone who can run around off the ball and in transition.  Low usage rates + few trips to the line + few fouls drawn = a guy who doesn't get a lot of contact or put the ball on the deck like you want a wing player to do. I have very few doubts that Johnson will be a nice player but I stand by what I wrote in our first draft board this year

Wes Johnson: (120.5)-  Wes Johnson is going to get a lot of mentions with Wolves fans but he has some fairly significant red flags.  If he were drafted by the Wolves, he would start the season as a 23 year old swing man from Syracuse (hello zone!) who needs work on his handle.  Midway through the season he went through a dry spell that reminded everyone of the player he was at Iowa State: a nice player but not someone to consider with a top 5 pick.   

The guy is also a Syracuse player who is engaging, polite, and with a megawatt smile...all the David Kahn buttons we have learned to be weary of.  Maybe if DeMarcus Cousins comes and whispers sweet nothings to Kahn about ponies and rainbows with an ear-to-ear grin we can start talking about the Wolves drafting the BPA at 4.  

Some random thoughts to bring it all on home:

  • I get the sense that everyone in the NBA lies about 80% of the time during the months of May, June, and July. 
  • Keeping in mind my first bullet point, I asked around about the rumored Philly trade with #4 and Al going out for Samuel Dalembert and #2, and the basic answer was a smile and "you really think Philly wants that much wrapped up at the 4?"  I completely agree with that sentiment.  They aint' moving the pick without Brand and if they do, they're idiots. 
  • Jonny Flynn is really, really short. 
  • While we didn't get to see the whole workout, the general consensus was that Johnson had his midrange game working and that he could be a solid guy beyond the arc in catch-and-shoot situations and in transition. 
  • While local media may not have access to the lion's share of the workouts, Jonah Ballow is in the room and twittering the whole time.  You can read his feed during workouts here. The Wolves have also increased their web content with videos, interviews, and more. It's a big improvement over last year's efforts.  Not exactly fan-based content, but it's getting a lot better. 
  • Don't forget to follow us on Twitter as well: http://twitter.com/canishoopus
  • Don't forget about tonight's first-ever SB Nation meet up.  Details are here. Wyn will be there for the Hoopus contingent.  
  • Also, do not forget that today is the big roll out for SB Nation Minnesota.  We will definitely have some content on there in the coming days and weeks.  
  • Speaking of SB Nation, I did an interview with David Brauer at MinnPost the other day and here's his article on the new SB Nation roll out. "Phantasmagorically detailed" is not a way we have ever heard this blog described before but we like it.  That may have a header ring to it.  As for the site, Wyn, Sonia, Shrink, and I have always maintained that it is the community of readers that makes it what it is.  Take a look at the number of comments and fan posts/shots that are popping up over the last month or so.  Thank you to everyone who takes part in this.  We really appreciate it. 
  • Oceanary does some yeoman's work by transcribing the Wes Johnson/Jonah Ballow interview along with posting interviews with Kahn and Fynn.  
  • Don't forget to check out Casperkid23's latest and greatest draft board. While you're at it check out his very own website, especially his consensus big board ratings.  
  • The rumor file:
    • There has been a lot of league-wide chatter that Kahn is an "easy mark" and that he is in way over his head.  Again, I know that there is a lot of whatever going around like now but...well, I was talking to the good folks over at the excellent new Wolves site A Wolf Among Wolves and Myles put it perfectly about Kahn: "I want to believe in the guy."  Count me in on that one.  As much as there seems to be a boatload of negative whispers out there about the guy, I want to believe that he has something up his sleeve.  I want to believe that Ricky Rubio can be the guy to run his idea of an up tempo team.  At the very least, I want to believe that they have enough assets to back into a lucky pick or acquisition.  I guess I may be setting myself up again for another Charlie Brown run at the football, but I really want to believe that the guy knows what he is doing and I'm perfectly willing to give him until the trade deadline to make up my mind about Thunder fandom or not. 
    • Speaking of A Wolf Among Wolves, Ben's latest post caught a good comment from Kahn: He admits he was wrong about Curry's ability to play the point.  Kahn's entire interview is available over at Timberwolves.com. 
    • The presence of Tony Ronzone really makes me feel better about the entire operation.  The guy really knows what he is doing and we've heard nothing but good things from everyone we've asked around the league. 
    • My best guess at the Wolves' top 5 draft board: Wall, Turner, Favors, Johnson, and Cousins.  
    • My best guess at what they'd love to do: Pick up another lotto pick and make a deal with New Jersey that would allow them to keep 3 and 4 while picking up Favors and Johnson.  They want athletes who can run the floor, rebound, and catch Ricky Rubio lobs.  I really think they'll get something done with Jersey. 
    • The team has definitely been reaching out to DeMarcus Cousins' agent.  David Kahn hasn't talked to him personally yet, but Tony Ronzone has made contact and the team really hopes to have him in for a workout. 
    • The team views Wes as someone who could step into the Rudy Gay role without spending a ton of dough in free agency.  If they can find a way to get Favors and Johnson while maintaining cap space for either this off season or 2011, I think you could argue that this approach might be the best value-based way forward.  I'd remind everyone that Rudy Gay is still a young player himself heading into his 5th year of professional ball, but in terms of player type at the 3, Johnson certainly is in Gay's ball park and for much less of a cost. 

OK, last thing.  Here's where we stand on the Hoopus Community Draft Board:

  1. John Wall (54%)
  2. Evan Turner (81%)
  3. Derrick Favors (50.8%) 
  4. DeMarcus Cousins (64.3%) 
  5. Wes Johnson (85.9%) 
  6. Al Faroq Aminu (38%) 
  7. Greg Monroe (30.4%) 
  8. Paul George (37.1%) 
  9. Xavier Henry (61.7%) 
  10. Cole Aldrich (35.1%) 
  11. Gordon Hayward (28%)
  12. Luke Babbitt (33.6%)
  13. Ed Davis (26.9%

 

    Who's got next? 
    Until later. 
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