NBA Draft night saw the Phoenix Suns move back in the draft order, and former Tar Heel forward Cameron Johnson shoot far higher than expected. The Suns traded their original number six slot to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 11th pick and forward Dario Šarić, and took Johnson with that 11th pick.
Many considered Johnson to be the best pure shooter in the draft, but almost no one predicted he would hear his name called that early. The Suns must have seen something in Johnson that would make him the best fit for their organization: likely, his knockdown perimeter shooting.
The Suns' pick-ups of Šarić and Johnson should beef up their 3-point proficiency, which was almost non-existent in prior years. Last season, the Suns were dead last in the NBA in 3-point percentage and 28th in 3-pointers made.
Pairing Johnson and other 3-point threats with rising superstar and elite shot creator Devin Booker could be an excellent template to get this young team rolling. With Booker and Deandre Ayton’s pick-and-roll game taking up most of the defense’s attention, Johnson will be able to find his spots on the floor to knock down open shots.
Believe it or not, Johnson also has the potential to become a leader in his first year on an NBA team. The Suns are one of the youngest teams in NBA history, while as a five-year college player Johnson has shown great growth and maturity. At 23 years old, Johnson is already older than most of the Suns’ key players, including Booker, who is 22.
Many saw the Suns’ selection of Johnson in the lottery as a bold move with so much potential talent still on the draft board, but in reality he’s a relatively safe pick. Perhaps Phoenix is hoping to avoid past draft misses, like the selection of Josh Jackson with the fourth pick back in 2017, picked almost purely off of potential. Last season, Jackson averaged just 11.5 points on 41.3 percent from the field.
The Suns could have taken a player with more upside with their 11th pick, but they knew what they were getting when they selected Johnson: a mature knock-down shooter with the potential for a long NBA career.