3 rookies the Portland Trail Blazers may regret not taking

Jalen Johnson, Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trail Blazers, Rookies (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)
Jalen Johnson, Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trail Blazers, Rookies (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images) /
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Jalen Johnson, Atlanta Hawks
Jalen Johnson, Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images) /

3. Jalen Johnson

Jalen Johnson was expected to take a slide after his commitment came into question following his decision to leave the Duke Blue Devils and focus on the NBA Draft. What was less expected was that he would last until the Atlanta Hawks were able to take him with the 20th overall pick.

A blue-chip prospect by all means, Johnson was listed as a five-star recruit, despite his decision to leave IMG Academy in the middle of his senior year. He was also ranked as the third best small forward in his class and the 13th overall player by 247Sports.

Throughout four Summer League games, Johnson looks the part of a lottery pick. He’s displayed a knack for pouring in buckets, using his blend of size and freakish athleticism to create easy opportunities for himself.

Lord knows that the Portland Trail Blazers could have used a big wing with potential. Johnson would have walked into the Blazers locker room one of the best athletes on the team. While he’s not exactly a defensive stopper at this time, he certainly has the right combination of quickness and size (6’9 with a seven-foot wingspan) to become a two-way star one day.

So far, he’s mostly dominating purely with his top-tier physicality, but Johnson has some more refined aspects to his game as well. He’s putting up 19 points a night while shooting 40 percent from deep on three tries per game. He’s also displayed a little bit of the court vision that made him such a desirable asset, averaging just under two assists per contest.

Jalen Johnson shouldn’t have ever made it to the 20th pick, and there were plenty of trade opportunities ahead of him for the Portland Trail Blazers to make a move. It won’t be surprising to see Johnson make them rue their hesitation moving forward.

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