2023 NBA Draft: 5 Instant impact sleepers Blazers should target

Kobe Brown, Missouri Tigers, Credit: Kyle Terada - USA TODAY Sports
Kobe Brown, Missouri Tigers, Credit: Kyle Terada - USA TODAY Sports /
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Keyontae Johnson, Kansas State Wildcats
Keyontae Johnson, Kansas State Wildcats, Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports /

Blazers NBA draft sleeper No. 2: Keyontae Johnson, Kansas State, Forward

Keyontae Johnson is now eligible for selection in this year’s draft after being cleared by medical professionals, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He was diagnosed with a heart condition after collapsing on the court in 2020 while playing for the Florida Gators.

This year, as a senior at Kansas State, Johnson finally got to showcase his talents yet again – the last time he played more than four games was in the 2019-20 season. He picked up right where he left off as a sharpshooting, two-way wing, averaging 17.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.0 steals with 52/40/72 shooting splits.

Offensively, the stat that stands out for Johnson is his 45 percent shooting on catch-and-shoot jumpers. Additionally, he’s an excellent slasher who moves well without the ball.

He can create shots for himself and others, which was apparent in his playmaking role at Kansas State. Although his 2.9 turnovers per game are a concern, Johnson’s strengths can be utilized to their fullest potential with a different role in Portland as more of an off-ball player.

Plenty of shooting, offensive-minded wings are expected to be available around in the late first-round range. What sets Johnson apart from other prospects is his defense and ability to be a switchable defender who can guard multiple positions with his size and agility.

These developed two-way skills make Johnson an ideal complementary three-and-D piece that the Blazers can implement into their system in his rookie year.

A two-way forward is something Portland needs, especially given its current wings’ unknown futures in unrestricted free agent Jerami Grant and restricted free agents Matisse Thybulle and Cam Reddish.