Depending on which Mock draft you read, Syracuse’s Wes Johnson has long been pegged to be picked by the Wolves with the fourth pick.
As much as I have heard the Wolves are working hard move up to get Evan Turner at No. 2, if they stay at No. 4, it seems like Johnson is their man. While I have been very wishy-washy on Johnson – to quote Lucy from Charlie Brown – I have to say that he is growing on me.
Johnson was in Minnesota for a solo workout on Tuesday with Wolves staff which included drills lead by head coach Kurt Rambis.
Johnson comes in ready to play at this level. Physically he is ready, mentally he is ready, and he is talented enough to play. But the big knock on him is his age. Johnson, who is a junior, is 22 year-old. Which is one year older than the rest of his class, but this makes sense since he sat out a season after transferring from Iowa State.
I love how 21 is still filled with endless potential, while 22 is an old-man set in his ways.
Timberwolves.com’s Jonah Ballow sat down with Johnson and here is bits of the transcript from that interview.
Jonah Ballow: Welcome to Timberwolves.com, I’m Jonah Ballow here with an exclusive interview with Wes Johnson, forward from Syracuse. Let’s first talk about your college experience, you took a year off and then transferred to Syracuse. How important was that season when you made the move from Iowa State to Syracuse?
Wes Johnson: The year I sat out, I think it was really important, I think it helped me with my mindset more than anything and made me more prepared going into the season really sitting out learning the offense, learning the group of guys and developing my chemistry in practice, which carried over to the season I had last year.
Jonah Ballow: What was the biggest difference? You put up some big numbers at Syracuse, you were the go-to scorer on that squad, what was the biggest difference when you made that leap into the Big East?
Wes Johnson: Really just the physicality of it, it is really night in and night out and you can’t take nights off. I just think really with the team leaning on me a lot and playing with a great group of guys and I could play off them so really team chemistry was a big role in it.
Later in the conversation;
Jonah Ballow: Let’s talk about your strengths a little bit, we know you are a big physical guy who can play multiple positions, what are you going to bring to an NBA team next season?
Wes Johnson: I will bring my versatility, playing inside and out could really help any team I could be drafted by but really just come to the organization and do what the team and the coaches tell me to do and then play with my strengths and have a great impact.
For me, Johnson seems very level-headed. He knows who he is, knows what it takes to find a place on a new team – he mentioned chemistry twice, and he knows how to work hard.
Johnson has a combo of skills and abilities that will translate to the NBA from day one. Johnson stands 6’6″ with a 7’1″ wing span, with a 37-inch vertical. He shot 51% from the field, scored 16.5 points a game and grabbed 8.5 rebounds a game.
Of all that, the rebounding impressed me the most and will get him playing time right away. Based on everything I have read and seen, Johnson works on defensive and has a steady jump shot which he can hit from distance.
The other major knock, besides age, is that he is weak in creating his own offense and lacks real handling skills. That may be true, but a guy with his physical gifts and motor, would get plenty of easy looks in transition, off of lobs, and off screens.
Johnson would also be able to defend most small forwards in the league and should be able handle most shooting guards not named Wade or Bryant.
It will be interesting if the Wolves take him at No. 4 and what that means for Corey Brewer. Brewer is very similar to Johnson, but lacks the consistent jump shot. Granted, once Johnson is in the league, he could lack the jump shot he had in college.
All in all, Johnson is a solid and logical pick. He is not a glamorous pick or a pick that draws a ton of press. But he will come in and work hard, compete for a starting spot and add depth the Wolves have been lacking from the wing.