“With the eleventh overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select, Cameron Johnson, from the University of North Carolina.” Those were the words uttered by commissioner Adam Silver, which were followed with a long, awkward silence, and then some mild clapping. Prior to the pick, the Timberwolves traded Dario Saric and the eleventh pick to the Phoenix Suns for the sixth overall picks This pick was completely unexpected, considering that he wasn’t even invited to the green room.
Cameron Johnson had an extremely unconventional route to the NBA. Playing two seasons at Pitt, three if you count his redshirt season that was ruined by a shoulder injury limiting him to just 8 points and 3 rebounds. He then transferred to the University of North Carolina where he was granted immediate eligibility. Johnson made tremendous strides, averaging 15 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. He was also one of the most efficient players in college basketball, shooting 48% from the field, and 41% from three. Cam Johnson has amazing size and length for a shooting guard. Not to mention, he showed flashes of high potential on defense with thirteen games with three or more steals. Cameron Johnson is as close to a sure thing as you were going to get with the eleventh pick. This draft was filled with high risk, high reward players. With the Phoenix Suns less than stellar draft history including Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, Josh Jackson, Allen Len to name a few. It appears they may have made the right choice by taking Johnson.
Players like Sekou Doumbouya, Nassir Little, and Romeo Langford all have high upside, but they aren’t safe picks. Rather than taking the risk, and hoping that one of those players lives up to their potential, Phoenix decided to take a player who’s skills will translate right away. The Suns were third last in three pointers made and last in three point percentage. They were also last in rebounds, so Johnson’s above average rebounding capability for a guard will translate in the right direction for them. Phoenix had a very inconsistent starting lineup, with sixteen different players; four of which being power forwards. Saric will be able to solve that uncertainty at the power forward position, and contribute with his diverse offensive game.
Phoenix was tied for the second worst record in the league this season. The Suns had high hopes for the draft, Zion Williamson and Ja Morant would both fit perfectly into their team. Ending up with Dario Saric and Cameron Johnson is disappointing with such lofty expectations. Obviously, that’s not anyone’s fault but the ping pong balls, but that’s still a very dissapointing outcome for the Suns. Cameron Johnson is a very underrated pick for Phoenix, and they’ll be happily surprised by what they get out of him. The future looks bright in Phoenix, you just have to look on the bright side.