Syracuse's Wes Johnson Declares For The NBA Draft, Where He'll Be A Lottery Pick

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Syracuse Blog: Thanks For The Memories, Wes

With the news that Wes Johnson will indeed depart upstate New York and ply his trade in the NBA next season, SB Nation's Syracuse blog, Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, rreflects on Johnson's impactful, albeit brief, career for the Orange:

Wes Johnson came to us with a modicum of hype.  Unknown as a recruit, he had built up a good reputation at Iowa State before deciding to transfer.  Cyclone fans were kicking themselves over losing Wes as they knew full well of his potential: ("If Cuse gets Wesley Johnson, I would have to imagine Orange fans would quickly fall in love with him. He's capable of the highlight reel dunk, but it's his athletic ability and total results that will impress you guys the most.").  But all due respect, this is Syracuse. Home of Jim Boeheim, Dave Bing, Pearl Washington, John Wallace and Carmelo Anthony.  Could Iowa State's trash actually be our treasure? [...]

What were Syracuse fans expecting of Wes before this season?  Boeheim had already hinted that Johnson might be good enough to go pro after one year, but we were skeptical.  I think we knew he'd be good.  But no one can say they thought he's be this good.  Big East Player of the Year.  1st-Team All-American.  3rd in voting for the Wooden Award.  A superstar.

Yes, we can sit here and debate all day just how valuable Wes was when it mattered most and the fact that he disappeared late against Butler will be a part of his legacy.  But it will be a small part.  Besides, that's the NBA's job now.  More likely, we'll remember being No. 1 in March for the first time ever.  We'll remember winning the Big East crown when we were picked to finish sixth in the conference.  We'll remember the Villanova win, the Georgetown wins and all the other 30+ wins SU accumulated this season. Being a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament after starting the season a 7- or 8-seed in many people's eye.  Feeling like, on any given day, this team could have beaten any other team in the nation.

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Syracuse's Wes Johnson Declares For The NBA Draft, Likely Lottery Pick

In an unsurprising move, junior Syracuse swingman Wes Johnson has declared for the NBA Draft, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.

The 6'7'', 195-pound Johnson was the Big East Player of the Year, after pacing the Orange to the Big East regular season title with his 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. The athletic, versatile Johnson figures to line up as a small forward in the pros, where his 41.5% three-point shooting last season makes him a very valuable commodity. So valuable, in fact, that most draft projections have him solidly in the lottery, and perhaps even in the top-five of what figures to be a deep draft. ESPN's Chad Ford lists Johnson as the 5th-best prospect in this year's class, while Draft Express has him 8th and NBADraft.net ranks him 4th.

The two big knocks on Johnson are his (relatively) advanced age, and his tendency to disappear in games. Because he had to sit a year out while he transferred from Iowa State, Johnson is already 22 years old, limiting his upside appeal to NBA GMs. But the more pressing question surrounding Johnson is his assertiveness, or rather his lack thereof. Johnson would often go through stretches of games without touching the ball, let alone shooting it. Part of this may have been due to a mid-season hand injury that limited his ability to shoot the ball, but there are still questions about whether he has the personality-type to be more than a third scorer on a good team. Still, given his obvious physical gifts and high skill level, Johnson should be one of the safer picks after John Wall and Evan Turner go off the board.

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