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Charlotte Hornets NBA Draft Preview: Stanley Johnson

One of the most complete players in the draft, could be available with the ninth pick in the upcoming draft. However, after recent reports, will the Hornets even bother?

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

After reportedly refusing to workout for the Hornets, Stanley Johnson may still remain on general manager Rich Cho's draft board. Having again vowed to take the "best player available", it is entirely possible for Johnson to be just that when the Hornets are on the clock with the ninth selection in this year's NBA Draft.

Measurements and Statistics

Height w/o shoes Height w/shoes Weight Wingspan Standing Reach Body Fat%
6' 5" 6' 6.5" 242 6' 11.5" 8' 6" 7.5

Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks Turnovers Fouls
28.4 13.8 6.5 1.7 1.5 0.4 2.2 2.6

4.6 10.3 44.6 3.5 4.7 74.2 1.1 3.1 37.1

Stats and measurements from DraftExpress


When you watch Johnson play, what sticks out most is his NBA ready frame and his ability to do a little bit of everything. He just turned 19 in May, so the fact he's already so rounded is very impressive. He also played a little out of position at Arizona, where he was the shooting guard beside fellow first round hopeful Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a player who's strengths and weaknesses mirror Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's. Despite this, he handled a large amount of playmaking and isolation responsibilities for Arizona where he showed he can go right or left, attack the rim, draw fouls, pull-up for jumpers, or make catch-and-shoot long range jumpers. Due to his size, he also has the ability to post up smaller players and win battles at the basket. Also, his lack of athleticism is being completely overblown.

On the other side of the ball, Johnson is one of the most impressive perimeter defenders in this year's draft class. He and Hollis-Jefferson would take turns making life miserable for the opponent's best wing player. His size makes him very hard to shake off-ball and he has a great defensive stance that makes it hard for players to attack him on close-outs and in isolation. Thinking about the NBA, it is likely that he would struggle guarding the true shooting guards (think Bradley Beal). However, Johnson would matchup well with small forwards and even some power forwards in today's NBA. Although not the tallest guy, his size will enable him to hold post position when teams go small. Think Jae Crowder guarding Al Jefferson last season.


The tape and the stats will show you that Johnson struggled to finish at the rim last season at Arizona. When you're making your decision with him you have to decide: was this due to the horrible spacing the team had or was this due to a flaw in Johnson's game? It's likely something in between. On a team with more shooting from 3-through-5 or if he was playing small forward in a more open environment, he's going to have more space to operate. However, it's obvious he is used to using his size to bully smaller players around the rim. He has a great second jump, so a lot of times it looks like he's willing to get to the rim, draw contact, and throw up a shot he knows he can grab himself if it misses. This reminds me of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in college. Johnson will have to adjust to the NBA game where this just doesn't fly unless you're Lebron James athletic

Another quick thing you notice when watching Johnson is that his release is very low. When pulling-up for mid-range jumpers, this is almost a strength because he creates great separation with his size and gets the shot off before the defender has one second to recover. However, against NBA defenders closing out or in contested catch-and-shoot situations, this is going to be an issue. One thing you know with Johnson, he's willing to commit to improving his game, as his shooting mechanics were much worse in high school.

Fit with the Hornets

Maybe Johnson doesn't see himself fitting in with the Hornets, who have Michael Kidd-Gilchrist firmly entrenched at the small forward position. Maybe after playing shooting guard in a cramped offense at Arizona, Johnson knows he won't be best utilized in a similar situation going forward in a more competitive league. Maybe he just wants to either start (in Detroit) or live in an awesome city (in Miami). Regardless, if he comes to Charlotte, Johnson would be a great player to have. For the entire draft process, Johnson has been my favorite wing prospect. Although he wouldn't be the best person to slot next to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, he and MKG would work well and last season the team was desperate for a versatile wing with size to play 20 to 30 minutes off the bench.

At the end of the day, his strengths are hard to come by and develop and his weaknesses are easy to mitigate with better circumstances and coach out of him. Finding all-around offensive wings with potential to be lock-down perimeter defenders that also have versatility is hard to do. It would seem short sighted to pass on a player of this caliber due to a workout issue.

Mock Drafts

CBS Sports 8th-12th
ESPN 10th
Draft Express 8th 10th
The Lottery Mafia 9th

Would the Hornets take Johnson if he's there? Or are the workout reports enough to sour the front office on the selection?