Skip to main content

At 6'9", 220 pounds, Jalen Johnson is built for the NBA. The former Duke Blue Devil's natural skillset has shimmered in his brief moments on the court this season. With Johnson's rookie campaign almost over, he has played in 21 games and averaged 2.5 points and 1.2 rebounds per game.

That might be considered underwhelming for most players selected with the 20th overall pick in the NBA Draft. But it's important to keep in context how few minutes Johnson's played this season. Through 80 games, Johnson has played a total of 118 minutes. 

As of this morning, Johnson ranks 72nd in total minutes played by rookies this season. The only other first-rounders to log fewer minutes than Johnson are Charlotte Hornets' Kai Jones (60 minutes) and Philadelphia 76ers' Jaden Springer (6 minutes).

Johnson's lack of playing time is even more surprising when put into historical context. Over the past 30 years, only one other Hawks' first round draft pick has played fewer minutes in their rookie season - Doug "Doughboy" Edwards. The former Florida State Seminole was selected with the 15th overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft and played only 107 minutes his rookie season.

There are two other former rookies that Johnson could catch if he gets some serious burn over the last two regular season games - Jordan Crawford (160 minutes) and Priest Lauderdale (180 minutes). Theoretically, basketball games could go on forever, so it's possible that Johnson logs infinitely more minutes. However, that does seem unlikely.

The silver lining to Johnson's first year in the association is his excellent play in the G-League. Both Johnson and fellow Hawks rookie Sharife Cooper have torn it up for the College Park Skyhawks. Although Cooper's a second round pick which comes with lower expectations, the former Auburn Tiger has played only 37 total minutes, which ranks 87th for rookies this season. Only four other second-rounders have played fewer minutes than Cooper.

Personally, I'm still high on both of their futures with the Hawks. Before we know it, the season will be over, and players will be off on summer vacation before returning to work on their craft. This offseason and the 2022-23 season are critical for the overall development of Johnson and Cooper. 

Recommended For You

Jalen Johnson Featured in BET 'Klutch Academy'

Sharife Cooper Defends Lil Baby

Trae Young Wears Kobe Bryant-Inspired Hoodie