Coming out of a small school didn’t exactly boost Orlando Johnson’s draft stock, but a great set of skills and a solid physique have helped him reach the NBA following his senior season at UC Santa Barbara.
Averaging 19.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game a year ago, the 6’5”, 205-pound shooting guard has left UCSB as the school’s all-time leading scorer, having received first-team All-Big West honors in both his junior and senior seasons.
What Johnson Brings to the Team
Having shot 42.7 percent from the three-point line last season, Johnson enters the league with a deadly combination of shooting and scoring ability.
A perimeter player who can score seemingly anywhere on the floor, he can create enough space for himself to shoot off the dribble in the isolation game. A good catch-and-shoot guy as well, Johnson has added a mid-range game to his arsenal.
Despite not being the quickest player on the court, Johnson is an underrated defender. Averaging just 1.1 steals per game last season, he didn’t always get the credit he deserves on the defensive end of the floor, as he was known for letting players pass him in isolation situations.
With a 6’11” wingspan, however, he can disrupt players on the perimeter and should look to use that at the NBA level.
What Experts Are Saying
Johnson accepted the role of floor general during his senior year, which is part of the reason for his drop in points from about 21 per game during the 2010-11 season. However, Matt Kamalsky of DraftExpress says that more time at the point guard position may have helped him heading into his professional career:
Given that his weaknesses limit his upside at the next level, Johnson's experience handling the ball more regularly, dealing with the double-teams he sees on the pick-and-roll and passing out of them can be looked at as positives.
Considering how little he turns the ball over for a player in his role, Johnson could fit into a spot-up oriented role if he can tone down his shot selection, ramp up his efficiency and fill a niche as a complementary scorer.
Don’t expect the natural scorer to become a point guard in the NBA, but when it comes down to it, his skills distributing the ball should help him find his teammates when his shot isn’t falling at times next year.
Johnson should enter the NBA as a threat to shoot well and score on any given night. His role will come off the bench, but he should be able to find his spot in the rotation as a rookie. Don’t expect James Harden or Manu Ginobili-like production, but don’t anticipate him riding the end of the bench, either.
Johnson’s the kind of player who can open up lanes in the middle by keeping defenses honest on the perimeter, and as a complementary scorer, he should provide the kind of production that takes the pressure off the team’s go-to options right away.
Orlando Johnson is a good value pick for the Pacers in the 2nd round. Johnson has a body that is NBA-ready and is a solid athlete. He has NBA range and can stretch the floor well. Johnson has a good chance to make the club and make an impact.