Welcome to NBA Draft week. On Thursday night at least two Tennessee players will hear their names called and find out where they will begin their NBA careers. Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson, two five-star prospects from the class of 2020, each went one and done in Knoxville. Yves Pons, a four-year player for Tennessee, also has a chance to hear his name called.
At ESPN, Jonathan Givony projected both Springer and Johnson to go in the first round. However, he had Johnson sliding all the way down to the 16th overall pick, falling out of the lottery.
Givony has Johnson landing with the Thunder.
“Johnson has one of the wider ranges of any prospect in the draft, as he brings neither the immediate readiness nor the type of role-playing or sweet-shooting projection that other wings in this class do, which could cause him to slide somewhat on draft night. The Thunder are in no rush to win and can afford to be patient with his development, giving him the reps needed to tap into the flashes of playmaking and two-way versatility he demonstrates, which are very hard to find.” — ESPN
Johnson sort of left us wanting more, considering the flashes that he provided. Things just never really seemed to come totally together for him in college, and his lack of shooting hindered both him and the offense at time. However, Johnson has every athletic tool you could ask for and a team that’s willing to be patient could land a prospect with considerable upside.
Jaden Springer, who lacks Johnson’s elite athleticism, is projected to go in the final few picks of the first round. Givony has him landing in Utah with the Jazz with the 30th pick in the draft.
“Coming off a phenomenal regular season, the Jazz might look to add backcourt depth after coming up short in the playoffs, partially due to injuries. Springer could be the type of prospect a team opts to select in this range, as he’s one of the youngest prospects in the draft and possesses significant upside thanks to the defensive intensity he displays, along with his outstanding scoring instincts.” — ESPN
What Springer lacks in athleticism, he makes up for in toughness and polish. Springer led Tennessee in scoring last season and eventually grew into something of a hybrid point guard. The Tennessee offense was disjointed for much of the year, which forced Springer be the lead guy in spots, which is where he had his best moments.
The NBA Draft is set for Thursday night, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN will have the coverage.