Atlanta Hawks: Jalen Johnson
Jalen Johnson suffered from Hawk’s former coach Nate McMillan’s aversion to playing young talent. McMillan wanted to squeeze every possible win out of Atlanta’s roster, leaving Johnson with fewer minutes than he would have found on a rebuilding team. Even in that limited time, Johnson showed flashes of greatness.
Standing at 6’9, Jalen Johnson is a springy forward with a tremendous passing vision for his size. His length makes him a terror for opposing teams in the passing lanes. Once he can tip an errant pass the other way, his speed and crazy hops make for easy transition scoring. His half-court game is not as developed, but he can help take playmaking pressure off Trae Young when opposing teams look to trap.
His ability as a connector and defensive instincts have drawn Johnson comparisons to young Ben Simmons. Unfortunately, their shooting ability is pretty comparable as well. Johnson couldn’t crack 30 percent from beyond the arc in his first two seasons. His shaky free throw percentage is another cause for concern.
Unlike Simmons, Johnson is not afraid to shoot when the moment calls for it. He has no concerns regarding his approach to the game.
Some would be hesitant of the OKC Thunder bring in a long, athletic non-shooter. This fanbase has certainly had its fill of that archetype.
Though an imperfect player right now, Jalen Johnson could develop into the perfect power forward for this iteration of the OKC Thunder. He’s athletic, switchable, and a quick decision-maker. It depends on whether he can turn those flashes of greatness into sustained success.