Coming off a very strong sophomore season, Armon Johnson
has made some strides with his game as a junior, but also has taken a step back in some areas. While his assist numbers have steadily climbed his three years in college, he's shooting the worst numbers for his career from the three-point and free-throw lines this season, certainly not something you want to see from a player whose biggest question mark coming into the season was his shooting ability.
Looking at his offensive game, it's quite clear that Johnson has an abundance of talent and skills, but his problem continues to be consistently putting them to good use. As a shooter, the interesting thing about Johnson is he actually appears to have pretty good natural shooting ability, as he is very effective when he's shooting in rhythm, with his shoulders aligned to the basket, and not moving from side to side, but too often he settles for incredibly ill-advised shots with his body contorted, his momentum going away from the basket, a hand in his face, etc.
According to Synergy Sports Technology, of the plays they've logged for Johnson this season, he's attempted just 13 catch and shoot jumpers as opposed to 54 jumpers off the dribble, an incredible ratio even for a point guard. What Johnson needs to do more than anything is get into a gym with a shooting coach and get all the bad tendencies out of his system, putting a focus on keeping his mechanics consistent and understanding the difference between good and bad shots. Johnson's decision-making in general is a cause for concern, as he will frequently not only take the aforementioned ill-advised jumpers, but he'll do it 5 or 10 seconds into the shot clock, settling for a very low percentage shot for no reason.
In terms of attacking the basket, Johnson has a very good first step along with excellent ability to elevate above the rim and draw contact with his very well-built frame, but his FTA/FGA is down from 0.33 to 0.24 this season, which can be seen in watching him play, as he seems more inclined to pull up for a spinning jumper with a hand in his face from 10-15 feet out than go all the way to the basket and throw his body around. To his credit, at the rim he finishes quite well, but he's just not maximizing his abilities.
As a point guard, Johnson shows excellent court vision in transition and very good court vision in the halfcourt when he wants to, being capable of making the full repertoire of passes. In transition he has a very natural feel for the game, finding a good balance between his own shot and creating for others, constantly keeping his head up with the ball. In the halfcourt he still seems to be growing into the role, however, as oftentimes he can get tunnel vision with his own shot, specifically when pulling up from mid-range.
On the defensive end, Johnson has had major problems this season, being beat off the dribble constantly in isolation situations, usually on his man's first step. He lets out of his defensive stance way too easily and doesn't appear to have the greatest reflexes in recognizing changes of direction. Also, for all his length and physical attributes, he doesn't do much damage in the passing lanes, making just 0.8 steals in 33.5 minutes per game.
Looking forward, Johnson clearly has excellent physical attributes to go along with very good skills for the point guard position, but he has quite a few bad habits with his game and has a lot of things he will need to work on to be an effective pro player. The encouraging thing is he shows flashes of brilliance in pretty much all areas of the game at times, and his shooting problems appear to be fixable if he puts in the work, but it will also require a mentality change in better understanding the difference between good and bad shots. It's hard to say anything definitive about Johnson's pro prospects at this point, as he could be all over the map depending on how he improves certain areas of his game, but it appears pretty clear that he needs another year in school to continue his development before coming out.