Jalen Johnson is the newest member of the Atlanta Haws. The Duke small forward went to the Hawks as the 20th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Clearly, the Hawks are trying to surround Trae Young with solid players on rookie contracts so that they can bolster the squad with bigger stars in the offseason. Johnson could be a great addition to the Hawks squad that just got done reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. Johnson got to play under Coach K at Duke, so he had the privilege of playing under one of the best basketball coaches in the world.
Johnson's game is very versatile for a player of his size and his position. Despite being a small forward, he can drive the ball, but also pass the ball and set up his teammates. And looking at the players he admired and built his game around, it is no surprise that he holds the playmaking aspect of the game in very high regard. When asked about what players he admires in the NBA, Johnson gave four names: Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Penny Hardaway, and Ben Simmons. All four of these players have been some of the most prolific playmakers the NBA has ever seen. And thus, his style of play makes more sense.
"I’ve only watched four players really hard: Penny Hardaway, Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Ben Simmons."
Given his experience playing under a tactically astute coach means that he will be a valuable addition on both ends of the court. Given his position as a small forward, Johnson is a great passer of the ball and tries to set up his teammates often enough. His ability to pass the ball does not take away from his tendency to drive the ball to the hoop. Johnson showed during his time at Duke that he can use his physicality to his advantage. And as he puts on more muscle mass, he will find more success in doing so.