There needs to be an answer for the Charlotte Hornets in the near future to find who the next face of their franchise will be after the departure of former All-NBA point guard Kemba Walker to free agency last offseason. The Hornets did forget some of the impact of the departure of Walker by seeing a true breakthrough from former Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham this season. But he might not be the answer over the long haul.
Could that next face of the franchise for the Hornets be the uber-talented five-star recruit and 6-foot-8 and 215 pound small forward Jalen Johnson?
There should be a floor that keeps the lengthy and gifted Johnson to a top 10 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. He’s just too lengthy and athletic to fall out of the top 10 as this draft class stacks up now. Given that can always change.
Johnson is a product of Nicolet High School in Milwaukee, WI. He has already committed and signed with Duke as one of their coveted pieces of the 2020 recruiting class. And Johnson ranks as the nation’s No. 11 2020 high school prospect, No. 3 small forward, and top prospect out of Wisconsin. He wound up picking Duke over the in-state power Wisconsin Badgers.
His 247Sports recruiting profile has a very prestigious player comparison, with the Los Angeles Clippers star forward Paul George. And it projects him out to be a first round pick if he goes in the 2021 draft.
Moreover, Johnson is about as natural as it gets for an offensive creator and shot maker. He is a good shooter from almost anywhere on the offensive end of the floor, and he can find his open teammates with ease to hit open shots. The defensive footwork needs some work, but he has potential given his length on that end of the floor.
There looks to be a good fit for a team that needs a new face of the franchise to build around, like the Hornets, and the Wisconsin native Johnson.