It's official! In SB Nation Ridiculous Upside world, Wesley Johnson is now a Golden State Warrior.
Because I made that pick and because in SBNRU world, Wes will become a superstar, I am hereby an awesome GM and get to keep my job -- well, under normal circumstances, i.e., you aren't about to become another victim of a Larry Ellison buyout.
Of course, it kinda helped that Greg Monroe was off my plate, didn't it? Not to be mean to SacTown Royalty, but an incredibly talented and skilled player just dropped in our lap. Kinda like last year!
Crazy, but these kinds of things happen in the real world NBA Draft. So, do not necessarily judge a GM by his draft picks.
Check out the details at RU. My take on the pick after the jump (which are also available at the RU post)...
Before I talk about Wes Johnson, I have to profess that I covet Luke Babbitt as the biggest steal of the draft, as was discussed in gory detail (and not actually suggested by me) not too long ago -- but just not quite enough to pass up on Johnson. Also, I'm thankful that our friends up north at Sactown Royalty selected Greg Monroe at #5, otherwise I would've been scrambling for some YouTube evidence to support my distant memory of Georgetown footage of Monroe, as someone who is liable to mentally check out of a game every now and then. If the Kings had selected Johnson at #5, I probably would've picked Babbitt at #6. And while Al-Farouq Aminu is quite an athlete and maybe a shoo-in as a participant in the 2011 All-Star Slam Dunk Contest, I would've picked elite basketball skill and IQ over elite athleticism -- although Babbitt's Combine measurements suggest that he can be considered a fringe elite athlete as well.
But this pick is about Johnson, not Babbitt. What a steal at #6! I think that's more a function of how talented the top 4-5 picks are, more than anything else. Around the third week of May, I had the fortune and privilege of watching an ESPNU re-broadcast of #8 Villanova at #4 Syracuse in a Big East regular season conference game from late February. In the boxscore, Johnson only shot 2-for-11, but he contributed in many other ways. He collected 11 rebounds and 4 assists, went 8-for-10 from the free throw line, showed off his smooth outside stroke going 2-for-6 from downtown (.415 for the season!), and had 2 steals and no turnovers.
The progression of his stats in all categories from his freshman and sophomore years at Iowa State is astounding. The 7'1" wingspan helps, too, and you can see him take full advantage of his length in YouTube highlight clips. Johnson likes to compare his game to Scottie Pippen's and he epitomized him in that game. However, the only adjustment I'd make to that comparison is that Johnson can slide over to the 2 more naturally whereas Pippen could slide over to the 4, with Pippen's stance a lot more "stand-up straight" than Johnson's lower center of gravity with an attack stance resembling more of a shooting guard. Finally, Johnson has extraordinary vision, can thread the needle, and is an unselfish player who doesn't need the ball in his hands to make an impact on the game. To top it off, he has an incredibly wonderful personality and work ethic. Not many players entering the Draft possess all of these skills and traits.