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Kings Pulse: 2021 NBA Draft Prospect Profiles – Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer

Freshmen guards Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer were Tennessee's top scorers this season - but do either make sense for Sacramento?

We kicked off the Kings Pulse draft profiles by looking at the two freshmen guards from Tennessee - Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer. The two were the leading scorers for the Volunteers this season, and helped lead Tennessee to 18-9 record and a 5th seed in the NCAA Tournament, but lost to Oregon State in the 1st round.

Per 40 minutes, Keon Johnson averaged 17.8 points 5.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.7 steals, and 4.1 turnovers a game while shooting 44.9% from the field, 27.1% from three, and 70.3% from the line. Johnson is one of the most athletic players in a very athletic draft class, although his size - 6'5 and a recorded 186 lbs with a 6'8 wingspan - keeps him squarely in the guard/fringe wing category. Scouts love his athleticism and intensity on defense, but he's a project player on both ends of the court and needs to significantly improve his shooting numbers at the NBA level.

Springer, meanwhile, is a tank of a guard - standing 6'4 with a 6'7 wingspan and 204 pounds, and a physical style that takes advantage of his strength on both ends. Per 40 minutes, Springer averaged 19.3 points, 4.5 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 1.9 steals, and 3.7 turnovers per game, while shooting 46.7% from the field, 43.5% from three, and 81% from the line. Springer is one of the best point of attack defenders in the draft class, and while neither Springer's basketball instincts or Head Coach Rich Barnes truly took advantage of Springer's shooting abilities, he has some immediate avenues for success at the next level.

In our profiles of the two Volunteers, we discussed

  • Why Tennessee was such a messy fit for both guards, especially on offense
  • Do Johnson's tools and motor make him a smart gamble in the lottery?
  • Does Springer have enough upside to pair him with De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton?
  • Given the Kings massive needs at the forward spots, is there an argument for either as the Best Player Available come pick 9?
  • Which of the two we'd prefer in Sacramento

What are your armchair scout opinions on the Tennessee freshmen? Do either make sense for Sacramento? Let us know in the comments!

The Kings Pulse podcast is available on all major listening platforms.

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eddie41
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June 8, 2021 11:38 am

Keon sounds like a bust. Shooting guards who can’t shoot and have no guard skills usually don’t belong on the court. The thing about him that stood out the most to me while watching the 2nd half of an ncaa tournament game was a weak motor. Looked like he needed an IV. So to hear his coach calling out his conditioning sounds spot on. And if it’s true that his motor is questionable, well, he wouldn’t really check the box for nba athleticism.

Hamlet1989
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June 8, 2021 7:44 pm
Reply to  eddie41

Don’t trip on him being a shooting guard. He can guard the 3 spot. Good size, plays big with his athleticism.

Hamlet1989
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June 10, 2021 7:00 am
Reply to  eddie41

They do make him sound like a bust. Jaden Springer does not deserve Keon Johnson comps. Shocked that they project Springer as a wing. He’s not. Johnson is rangy and will grow into his frame. First time I remember disagreeing so completely with most of these opinions. Johnson is a forward and will be a good starter. Springer is a bench player in the mold of Cory Joseph. Who thinks we need him back?

eddie41
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June 8, 2021 11:39 am

Springer is intriguing. I’d like to know how you would compare him to Jared Butler.

eddie41
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June 8, 2021 12:30 pm
Reply to  Bryant

the guest you had on the podcast a few months ago suggested Springer for the Kings also. Had him ranked really high.

MidtownMike
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June 8, 2021 11:51 am

We need legit SF and up size unless we get to 4 and suggs is the best available.

At 9 we should be looking for BPA at either SF, pf, c

eddie41
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June 8, 2021 12:14 pm
Reply to  MidtownMike

At SF, a guy who has risen to #24 on Vecine’s big board is Kessler Edwards. A lot of people on this site like him also. At PF, Sengun is #8 on Vecine’s board.

RAP87
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June 8, 2021 12:24 pm
Reply to  eddie41

Alperen Sengun’s stock is starting to rise. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

RAP87
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June 8, 2021 1:40 pm
Reply to  Bryant

Nice!

Hamlet1989
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June 8, 2021 7:45 pm
Reply to  Bryant

I like Usman Garuba better.

Last edited 5 months ago by Hamlet1989
MidtownMike
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June 8, 2021 12:54 pm
Reply to  eddie41

Yeah I like Sengun for us at 9ish.

If love to somehow get another early teen to try and snatch Moody or another wing they like.

Spurs at 12 with something centered on Barnes is what I’d try and do

eddie41
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June 8, 2021 1:24 pm
Reply to  MidtownMike

I’d rather have two more years of H Barnes than the Spurs pick.

MidtownMike
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