Cameron Johnson - North Carolina
Small Forward, 6’9, 210 lbs, 23 years old
50.6 FG%, 45.7 3P%, 81.8 FT%
16.9 PTS 5.8 REB 2.4 AST 1.2 STL 1.5 TOV
As the season came to a close, Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey was quoted with the following: “Adding a sniper at any position is something we’re going to have to strongly evaluate”. The draft is a great opportunity for thorough evaluations, and I’m sure finding more shooting is still at the forefront of his mind. University of North Carolina’s Cameron Johnson is certainly going to find his way on Lindsey’s short list.
Shooting, shooting and more shooting. Johnson is arguably the draft’s best shooter, as can be seen by that 45+% from 3 this season. And that was on nearly 6 attempts per game. His stroke is smooth and is expected to translate to the NBA very well. He’s got the height to get his shot over just about anyone as well. He showed consistent improvement throughout his college career, so you’d hope that would continue into his NBA career.
His defense this year was significantly improved as well. That’s not to say he’ll be a positive defender anytime soon, but he was more active and consistent this year. He’s got a decent all around game to go along with his elite shooting, but that’s his only definitive NBA skill. I think he could be a fairly easy plug and play for few minutes eery night right from the get-go due to his shooting.
The biggest caution to take with Johnson is his age. He’s already older than many NBA athletes after playing 5 (yes 5) years of college basketball. Was he just a man amongst boys and that’s why his numbers looked so good this year? His free throw rate was also fairly low for a guy with high usage and scoring. I’m not sure he’ll every have much of a dribble drive game.
He might be tall but I wouldn’t necessarily call him long. His wingspan is just 6’10, which is shorter than many players at his height. He also won’t have the strength to play much small ball 4 at least early in his career. This can also be seen with his very low number of blocks that he’s recorded. If his defense were a little better he could be a typical 3 and D guy. For now, he’ll mostly be more of just a 3 guy. His lack of speed might make it difficult to stay in front of NBA wings.
Q&A with Brandon Anderson from Tar Heel Blog
Want someone with a bit more expertise? You got it. I talked with Brandon Anderson from Tar Heel Blog about Cameron Johnson’s strengths, weaknesses, and how he’d transition to the NBA. Here’s what he had to say.
What strengths of Cameron Johnson will translate well to the NBA?
The biggest thing that stands out about Johnson is how extremely gifted of a shooter he is. During his final season at UNC, he knocked down 45.7% of his three-point attempts, and he made a fair amount of those from NBA range. If I’m being perfectly honest, he might be the best shooter that I’ve ever seen in a Carolina uniform personally, and I think he’s going to be extremely good in the NBA in that regard.
Another one of his strengths would be his rebounding, which was constantly improving during his time at UNC. On a podcast that he was featured on during the school year, he mentioned that his mom constantly emphasized rebounding to him, and I think that’s translated into his game. He has room to improve, for sure, but I think he shouldn’t have much of a problem getting to the boards often in the NBA.
What weaknesses of Johnson will need to be improved in the NBA?
The one big glaring weakness that I can think of for Cam is that while he’s a decent enough defender, guarding multiple positions may be an issue for him. With quicker, more athletic players, he didn’t have a great deal of success against them, but he’s also still trying to figure out how to use his recently-healed body as well. During most of his college career, Johnson was in constant pain and his movement on the court was hampered quite a bit. Last summer, however, he finally got the surgery that he desperately needed and it was like he was a brand new player. If he works hard on improving his mobility, I could see this getting better for him, but I still think his ceiling only goes so high.
What role do you see Johnson being in the NBA?
Every time I think of what Johnson could be in the NBA, I immediately think of players like Ray Allen, Kyle Korver and others that were able to find a niche for a particular team as a 3-and-D guy that can shoot the lights out and hold their own on defense. As I mentioned before, he isn’t the best defender I’ve ever seen, but I think the trade off is that whichever team that lands him will get arguably the best shooter in the draft, and someone that will give a lot of effort every time he steps out onto the floor. Will he ever be a starter? I couldn’t possibly tell you, and I think a lot of that depends on how well he figures out to use his body now that he’s playing without any kind of injuries. Regardless, I will be shocked if he isn’t able to make some form of name for himself on a NBA roster.
Would you consider Utah a good landing spot for him?
The best answer that I can give here is: everyone needs a shooter. I think it’s fair to say that even the Golden State Warriors would love to have a player like Cam Johnson, as he is just that good when he pulls up from deep. The Jazz would have an excellent addition if they drafted Johnson, and I feel like he’d be just what they need to potentially become one of the top five shooting teams in the league. That may sound drastic, but anybody that’s seen enough of his games knows why it’s hard not to be excited for what he could possibly do at the next level.