The Portland Trail Blazers trade with the Los Angeles Clippers that saw them send Norman Powell and Robert Covington in return for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson, and a 2025 second-round draft pick was received with a lukewarm welcome from the fans. Winslow’s stellar two-way play since arriving in Portland has helped soften the blow, but the Blazers’ crown jewel in this deal was always Keon Johnson.
Interim General Manager Joe Cronin and the front office staff made it clear that they highly value the rookie guard, who was taken with the 21st overall pick in 2021, in response to criticisms that the team failed to garner a first-round selection in return for Powell and RoCo.
As a recent first-round prospect, Johnson does carry a similar value in that regard. Through the lens of surrounding Damian Lillard with immediate aid, though, it’s yet to be seen what the former Tennessee Volunteer will have to offer. Johnson has appeared sparingly in his rookie season, having only garnered 135 total minutes in his young career.
What can the Portland Trail Blazers get out of Keon Johnson?
The Los Angeles Clippers were a team chock full of depth, so much so, that despite all of their injuries and COVID-related absences, still didn’t require much from Keon Johnson. As this season was expected to be a gap year for the Clips — with Kawhi Leonard likely out for the entirety of the season — they had the luxury of time to wait for Johnson to develop.
With the Clippers’ depth and low expectations for 2021-2022, they had the perfect situation to take a flier on Johnson with their first-round pick.
Now, he’s been thrust into an entirely different setting that will need his services sooner rather than later.