Johnny Juzang was the man this month and hopefully the Detroit Pistons were paying attention.
The sweet-shooting guard led UCLA to the Final Four and nearly beyond as an 11 seed. Projected to go undrafted or be a late second-round pick, he has since skyrocketed to be a late first-round pick on most draft boards.
If the hype surrounding him right now subsides, the Detroit Pistons may have a shot at him in the second round. He does have another year of college eligibility, but the likelihood of running it back is low, and it would be smart for Juzang to declare for the draft while his stock is at an all-time high.
Juzang is not a risky pick. His floor and ceiling are both in about the same place. He can score as well as anyone, but that’s pretty much all he can do.
While he isn’t a defensive liability, he is not an elite defender. He isn’t the best rebounder for his size, and for someone this cool and collected, he isn’t a fantastic facilitator.
But that’s not why the Detroit Pistons may draft him. There’s only one reason to pick him: he’s a walking bucket.
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Throughout the entire tournament, when Juzang was thrust into the national spotlight, any shot he put up was almost guaranteed to go in. Watching him shoot, every time he shot the ball UCLA was about the get two or three more points.
Juzang showed he can score in crunch time, so even as a role player off the bench, he can play important minutes.
Juzang is not an elite athlete, but that doesn’t stop him from creating a shot and hitting it. He isn’t fast and probably won’t be able to defend the fast break, but with him shooting the ball there won’t be many rebounds to turn into breaks. He could gain some weight to overpower NBA defenders, but he’s crafty enough to not need the strength.
As reluctant as I am to compare a young gun to an older player, his style of play reminds me of Manu Ginobili, minus the crafty passes. He can hoist up a shot that he has no business taking, and splash it in. He can cut and scoop his way to the basket. And like Manu, if he’s drafted in the second round by Detroit, he’d be an absolute steal.
If Juzang can make better passes that result in assists, and maybe show the occasional burst of athleticism, he could be a Ginobili clone. Plus, they both have long and floppy hair, so if Juzang becomes a better actor and can draw some generous whistles that’s just a plus.
Can Detroit get him in the second round? Maybe not. NBA.com suggested that he could be a lottery pick, but that’s far-fetched, and after the hype surrounding his name dies down that absolutely won’t happen.
Kenny Smith said that Juzang will be a first-round pick, which seems more reasonable. But if he’s on the board in the second round and Detroit needs bench scoring, run that pick to the podium and don’t even think about looking back.