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2019 NBA Draft Profiles: The Kentucky Backcourt Duo

Wofford v Kentucky Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Keldon Johnson

Stats (http://www.tankathon.com/players/keldon-johnson)

Next up in the group of potential draft candidates for the Thunder is Keldon Johnson. Johnson projects as another possible 3-and-D candidate. At 6’6” with a wingspan just over 6’9”, he’s shown some ability to shoot and is a high energy player who has rebounded pretty well for his position. Some of his draft comparisons from around the web include Otto Porter, Corey Magette, Garrett Temple (the younger version), and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Johnson is one of three Kentucky players likely to be drafted in the first round. As a result, he had to share touches with others who had a high profile. He showed quite a bit of offensive prowess in averaging 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists per game on 38.1% 3 point shooting. He’s also able to score in a variety of ways, on spot up shooting, scoring off the dribble, and in transition both as a shooter and in traffic as seen below (video edited from NBA Draft Junkies):

Keldon Johnson Spot Up
Keldon Johnson Floater
Keldon Johnson Transition

He’s a high energy and high effort player who shows definite shooting prowess. However, Johnson also doesn’t particularly stand out in any single area. That could make him more of a “Jack of all trades, master of none” type of player. Johnson’s also not a great passer. His assist numbers are relatively low and his assist-to-turnover ratio of 1:1 shows him a bit prone to turnovers.

There seems to be a general feeling that he could be a solid defender at the next level, but there really isn’t anything in his metrics to say that right now. His block and steal numbers are both fairly pedestrian. Johnson definitely has the potential as a one-and-done college player under 20-years old, but his defensive game seems to be a work in progress while his offensive game is fairly well rounded.

Tyler Herro

One of Johnson’s teammates at Kentucky, Herro is noted as one of the most accurate shooters in the 2019 draft. The freshman shot 35.5% from 3 point range on 4.6 attempts per game while also shooting over 93% from the foul line. This gives him a projected NBA 3 point percentage of just over 38% per Tankathon.

http://www.tankathon.com/players/tyler-herro

One of Herro’s most common comparisons is Devin Booker. He’s a crafty guard who can handle the ball fairly well. He can also create shots for himself as well as others. He was second on the Wildcats in assists for the season though he’s not really a primary playmaker. He’s got great form on his shot and has shown the ability to pass both to bigs and the perimeter on drive and kicks (Hey look another guard who can actually throw a lob!).

Herro Lob
Herro Drive and Kick

Despite all of his efforts, Herro isn’t an elite athlete so he’s not exactly an amazing defender either. He gives solid effort and energy on defense and did average over a steal per game. He can guard wings and point guards but he’s not overly quick and can be beat defensively. This could improve to a degree with age and conditioning as he gains strength, but he’s unlikely to be a plus defender right away.

Like Johnson, Herro is also turnover prone (about a 1.5:1 assist to turnover ratio) and had a pretty low free throw attempt rate. Both are areas for improvement at the next level.

Most mock drafts have Herro off the board before the Thunder picks at 21. If he slipped, he’d likely be the best player available. The Thunder missed on former Kentucky shooter Devin Booker by one pick in 2015. Perhaps if Herro falls to them, they can make up for that unlucky draft slot.