My biggest takeaway from the Hawks first Summer League game is that Jalen Johnson can ball — like, really ball. The 6’9″ combo forward was head and shoulders ahead of everyone on the floor yesterday as far as talent is concerned. He led his team in scoring with 20 points and recorded a double-double in just 25 minutes, showing off his impressive athleticism to go along with a smooth mid-range game.
I know it’s just one Summer League game, but this young man certainly looks the part. If Johnson can develop a consistent shot from deep, he’ll be yet another slam-dunk selection by Travis Schlenk. However, as good as he was on the floor, I might be even more impressed with what he said to the media after the game.
“I immediately grabbed one of the asst. coaches and told him I just want to watch film, break down the game, things that I can do better going forward,” Johnson told Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I know I can limit my turnovers; be more assertive on offense.”
Coming into Duke as a five-star recruit, Johnson was a projected lottery pick this time last year. But after leaving Duke in the middle of the season to focus on the NBA Draft, questions regarding his commitment to the game and overall character arose. This is likely what caused him to fall down draft boards and into the Hawks’ lap with the 20th pick. However, if his attitude following his first Summer League game is any indicator, Nate McMillan and company shouldn’t have any issues getting the best out of the ultra-talented Johnson, which is yet another reason Hawks fans should be giddy for the 2021-2022 season.
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