Portland Trail Blazers: 3 more prospects worth trading into NBA Draft for

Portland Trail Blazers, NBA Draft, CJ McCollum (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Portland Trail Blazers, NBA Draft, CJ McCollum (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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Jalen Johnson, Duke University, University of Louisville
Jalen Johnson, Duke University, University of Louisville (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Portland Trail Blazers could secure the steal of the 2021 NBA Draft in Jalen Johnson

Jalen Johnson is one of the biggest enigmas of the 2021 NBA Draft. While he’s absolutely a blue-chip prospect, playing his freshman season at Duke University, there’s not much tape on him from the last two years. Johnson opted out of the remainder of his freshman year after just 13 games played for the Blue Devils, using the rest of the time to instead prepare for the draft.

He ended up only starting 8 games, averaging a shade over 21 minutes per game on the season.

From the limited exposure we’ve received of Johnson, we know that he’s a great athlete who uses his physical skills to dominate on the boards and in transition. He’s a good and willing passer at his size and position. While his jump shot isn’t a guarantee, he did shoot 44 percent from deep on 18 attempts in his short time at Duke.

For his physicals, he’s of prototypical stature to play small forward in the NBA. At 6’8, 210-lbs, Johnson has the size to match up with any forward in the league, especially if he fills in more in his early seasons in the league.

His energy in the open court will be a bolster to speed up Portland’s attack, a methodical, sometimes sluggish probing that ranked them second to last in points in transition last season.

He has all the tools to be a star at the next level. What could cause him to slide in the draft are the questions surrounding his character. Teams may shy away from Johnson knowing that he left IMG Academy his senior year and then opted out of his freshman season in college.

Between FORTHEW!N‘s Bryan Kalbrosky, BleacherReport‘s Jonathan Wasserman, and USA Today‘s Tyler Byrum and Chase Hughes, the four analysts have Johnson at an average draft position of 12. If he starts to fall into the double-digit picks, the Blazers should not hesitate to inquire about a possible trade for their forward of the future.