(Photo of David Johnson, Ithiel Horton: Charles LeClaire - USA TODAY Sports)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It might be scheduled roughly one month later in the year than it normally is, but 2021 NBA Draft week is finally here. When the draft gets underway on Thursday, Jul. 29 at 8:00 p.m. EST on ABC and ESPN, a couple Louisville men's basketball players are hoping to hear their name called.
While guard Carlik Jones is generally regarded as having an outside chance at being drafted, guard David Johnson has a much higher probability at getting selected. It's not hard to see why, as he was the only player in the ACC this past season to rank among the top 25 in both rebounding and assists, averaging 3.2 assists (13th in the ACC) and 5.8 rebounds (22nd), as well as 12.6 points.
As we inch closer to finding out where Johnson will be heading to start his professional career, mock draft season continues to be in full swing. With outlets recently publishing some of their final mocks of the draft season, where are they projecting Johnson to go?
Johnson is generally regarded as a mid-to-late second round prospect, but his draft stock is all over the place. He former status as a fringe lottery pick seems like a distant memory, but according to USA Today's Bryan Kalbrosky, Johnson has a chance to come close to the first round.
In his mock draft, he is projecting the 6-foot-5, 210-pound guard to get selected with the No. 31 overall pick, the first pick of the second round, by the Milwaukee Bucks. Outside of it being the highest pick on this list, many Louisville fans would love to see a reunion with former Cardinals star and newly-crowned NBA Champion Jordan Nwora.
Now we start to venture into Johnson's likely draft range. Many are weary of how Johnson looked in the second half of the season, where he averaged 10.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists to 2.8 turnovers over his final ten games, while shooting 35.5% from the field and 33.3% on threes.
But many are still bullish on his potential at the next level, including ESPN's Jonathan Givony. He has the Trinity alum heading south to San Antonio, and getting selected with the No. 41 overall pick held by the Spurs.
NetScouts Basketball is a lesser-known publication, but according to NBA.com, their mock drafts are regarded as one of the top and most accurate in the nation.
Considering Johnson is thought of as a mid-round pick, it only makes sense for someone to mock him to the No. 45 overall pick, the dead middle of the second round, held by the Boston Celtics, and that's exactly what NetScouts' Carl Berman is projecting heading into the week before the draft.
Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report
With so many differing opinions on where Johnson might go in the draft, it has been hard to find any two publications agree on his exact pick in a mock draft. Well, insert Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo and Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman, who both have Johnson heading to the Toronto Raptors with the No. 46 overall pick.
"Johnson has been a bit of a tricky player to evaluate this season, never quite living up to his freshman-year buzz and spending a good deal of time sharing the floor with another point guard in Carlik Jones," Woo wrote. "Johnson remains a potential top 40 selection, but this range of the draft is rife with guards, and he’s not quite as dynamic as some of the players listed ahead of him."
The Athletic and Yahoo Sports
While we have two publications agreeing again on where Johnson will be drafted, now is where opinion on him starts to sour a bit. Both The Athletic's Sam Vecenie and Yahoo Sports' Krysten Peek have him going No. 50 overall to the Philadelphia 76ers, and they start to bring up questions regarding his professional future.
"If he’s not even a threat as a pull-up option, he’s probably not going to stick at the NBA level as a two-guard. He’s not quite athletic enough to be a true one that is a primary guy even off the bench," Vecenie wrote in his 2021 NBA Draft guide. "But with how good he is on defense and that elite level passing? His feel for the game gives him a real chance if the skill level catches up."
Now we are starting to approach the territory where Johnson might not get picked up at all in the draft. Basketball News' Matt Babcock is teetering close to this line, but has Johnson getting picked up just one pick shy of Mr. Irrelevant - the No. 59 overall pick held by the Brooklyn Nets.
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